– Minister Manickchand addresses allegations of bullying, discrimination of students by teachers

Classes are up and running again at the Bishops’ High School after several teachers had taken strike action after claims by present and past students of bullying, discrimination and sexism hit social media.

The allegations, which were posted on Instagram by a former student, went viral and were substantiated by current students of the school. Several screenshots of the allegations made its way to the teachers and an internal probe was launched by the administration of the school.
On Tuesday, Education Minister, Priya Manickchand spoke on the matter.

“We have to remember that at the end of the day, every adult player in the Ministry of Education, including teachers, headteachers and education officers, our paramount duty is to look after the best interest of children and I’m not certain shutting the school down will ever be in the best interest of children or at least shutting it down for lengthy periods.”
The minister stated that the allegations that were made by the students are not to be and will not be ignored.

“For me, that is something we should always take seriously and really pay attention to and it warrants investigation with a view to making sure that if that happened, we address the needs of those students who might have felt like they were victims of it and particularly to make sure it doesn’t happen going forward,” the minister said.
She added: “It continues to engage the ministry’s attention; we also want to make sure that teachers are not on the receiving end of the abuse; however, we have to be very careful; freedom of expression has meaning.”

Anil Persaud, a former student of the school, told the Guyana Chronicle in a previous interview that while he respects and loves his alma mater, he cannot deny that the allegations of mental and physical abuse are true.

He stated that the school’s administration is cognisant of this and should definitely change their stance from a defensive position and try to take note of the pattern the students are trying to highlight.

Persaud recalled having similar experiences and stated that some of the teachers at the school “abuse their power” and oftentimes break the morale of the budding minds.
Further, Persaud noted that while discipline is important in running one of the top education institutions in the country, many of the teachers blur the line between discipline and abuse.
“The extent to which it is taken is sometimes questionable, questionable to the character of the teachers and the institution at large, because the extreme measure that is [sic] taken to handle the issues is not what you’d expect from an institution like that and from teachers who have been in the institution for that long. So, it borders on the lines of being really abusive–

verbally abusive, emotionally abusive. The way the teachers acted, it was bullying really when you think of it,” expressed the former student.
He stated that the school has always taken a position to retaliate and punish any student, past or present, who would speak publicly on the atrocities that occurred at the institution.
“I really think that it escalated to the point of the students creating an entire social media page for lack of intervention. I don’t think there was sufficient intervention from any level: from the ministry, from the school’s board, from the parent teachers association, from none of the sub-institutions within the school…just to protect the name of the school, no one ever said anything, it didn’t get out much and whenever there was an opportunity or an instance where information came out and people spoke, the admin would shut it down,” Persaud explained.