By Carlena Knight
Discussions are underway to address the ongoing problem of vandalism at schools across Antigua.
This was revealed by Cabinet spokesperson Melford Nicholas on Thursday during the post-Cabinet press briefing.
Nicholas, who is also the minister responsible for Information and Technology, explained that government is looking at implementing CCTV cameras to help boost the safety and security of the nation’s schools.
“I am working with several suppliers. Once such person came and made a presentation to me more recently and it is something that I am obliged to work along with the Ministry of Public Works and the Ministry of Education to ensure that we can provide that level of unmanned security for the school environment, but it is a little delayed down the road and will certainly come after the budget,” Nicholas said, referring to this week’s budget debate which has been underway in Parliament.
He admitted that the introduction of CCTV monitoring systems is long overdue in schools, as it has been a financial strain to appoint security guards.
A timeline for when these new security measures will be implemented has not been identified, but Nicholas said they will follow after all the schools have been equipped with other technological needs.
“We have been using, over the years, manned surveillance in terms of security companies, but these regimes have become prohibitively expensive for the government and so the idea of having those CCTV monitoring systems within the school plants is a matter that is at hand but, again, we are putting in place the IT networking in many of the primary schools at the moment and, I suppose at the end of it all we will have another layer of development to do in the secondary and primary schools to be able to ensure that we can get CCTV systems in place,” he added.
The minister’s comments come just days after Principal of the Ottos Comprehensive School Foster Roberts called for the government to beef up security at the St John’s-based institution which was broken into on two separate occasions this week.
The perpetrators stole two cell phones, destroyed a safe and its contents and vandalised the principal’s office.
There are reports that two other schools had also been broken into in recent weeks.