Education Minister Dr. Nyan Gadsby-Dolly.

An inter-ministerial meeting will be held on Monday as Government seeks to urgently address the recent spate of violence in schools.

The meeting will be headed by the Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly and Minister of Youth Development and National Service Foster Cummings.

It has been a brutal return to school for some educational institutions, as videos of fights between students, with some even involving adult members of the public, have been circulating heavily on social media.

On Monday (February 21), Guardian Media reported that a child at the Siparia West Secondary School was stabbed during a fight on school grounds.

Several other videos involving students from other schools have since been made public, with the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) at this time trying to ascertain when these fights took place.

Speaking with Guardian Media, Gadsby-Dolly said this issue goes far beyond any one specific school. Asked about what will be done to break the trend of violence at the Siparia West Secondary, the Minister said Monday’s meeting is geared towards finding a long-term solution for all schools.

“We have a violent society, schools are microcosm. This is larger than a Ministry of Education problem. This is a societal issue and needs input from all stakeholders.”

Minister Cummings did not wish to comment on any of the recently posted videos but did say the upcoming meeting will discuss a “collaborative approach to the very serious issue of school violence.”

Meanwhile, child and adolescent mental health specialist Dr Samuel Shafe told Guardian Media that the explosion of violence at some schools is a side effect of some children struggling to “re-learn how to be in school.”

Dr Shafe said people should not underestimate the transition from moving back into a structured learning environment.

“There will be a loss of familiarity with the school environment, and the type of discipline you get from the normal school environment, they would not have had at home. This will be a learning curve again because there’s more structure in school and things now have to again be done in a particular time frame, you go from one subject to another, back to designated break times and lunchtimes.”

But Shafe is optimistic and believes this is not unusual and over time, the aggression will settle down.

“As time goes on the level of familiarity will improve in terms of re-learning their environment, re-learning their friends, re-learning that structure and re-learning how to respect and follow instructions from their teachers and principals again.”