Education Minister Shawn Edward has responded to allegations by a female student that some of her colleagues raped her.
“As you quite rightly said it is an allegation,” Edward said when reporters raised the matter with him on Monday on the sidelines of a Cabinet meeting.
But he said he was off the Island and had yet to receive a formal report.
“There has been talk about this particular incident. For very obvious reasons, this is not one you would want to say too much about in the public domain,” Edward explained.
“But we condemn that behaviour if it happened, and if it happened, it is a wake-up call for us in the education system,” the Minister stated.
“Just to ensure that we have stronger measures in place that would deter children from engaging in such behaviours,” Edward told reporters.
At the same time, he explained that a lot of what is happening in schools reflects what takes place in the wider society.
“If adults conduct themselves in ways that are acceptable and admirable, more often than not these are the behaviours that children will emulate and this is what you will see reflected in the classrooms and on the school compound,” he stated.
However Edward told reporters that if adults continue to be wayward and take no pride in what they do, including not conducting themselves in socially acceptable ways, invariably, the children will copy that example and take it into the schools.
He explained that as a result, this would make the work of teachers more challenging.
“And sometimes, instead of just imparting the national curriculum and instilling values, teachers have to deal with a range of other issues that, when they took up their assignment, were never in their purview,” Edward told reporters.
Nevertheless, he noted that society is dynamic and the school is one of the critical agents of socialisation.
“Those of us in education, we understand that we are dealing with lives. We are dealing with impressionable minds. We know there are times when the environment becomes a bit challenging. But I can assure you. We will never hoist that white flag of submission,” the Minister declared.
“We will continue to work with our partners. We will continue to put the resources, as meagre as they may be at times, where we need to, just to effect the kind of changes and to influence the minds of our young people in ways that can make Saint Lucia a better place for them and the population at large,” he told reporters.
( Story updated )