Benn warns of harsh penalties for those responsible for school fires

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Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn and firefighters at the Christ Church Secondary School

See full statement from Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn:

The Minister of Home Affairs, Honourable Robeson Benn, has considered the alarming number of school fires.

Minister Benn empathizes with the students, teachers, supporting staff and parents affected by these recent fires and notes that the Government of Guyana and the Ministry of Home Affairs remain committed to those affected.

The most recent fire at Christ Church Secondary, which occurred on Thursday, January 12th, 2023, affected five hundred three (503) students, thirty-nine (39) teachers and nine (9) ancillary staff, while three hundred and ninety-seven (397) student, thirty-three (33) teachers and four (4) ancillary staff at St George’s High School were severely affected on July 20th, 2022.

These buildings, known as schools, have a rich history as part of our colonial past. The Minister of Home Affairs strongly condemns those trying to wreak havoc and create future weakness and uncertainty within the school system and the nation.

The Ministry is aware that school fires will create a negative ripple effect on the education system and calls on all agencies and citizens to be vigilant to ensure the protection and sustainability of the education sector.

The PPP/C Government has rendered quick assistance and aid to the displaced teachers and students of the recent fire. Likewise, in June 2021, North Ruimveldt saw the displacement of four hundred forty-four (444) students, forty (40) teachers and five (5) ancillary staff, the same way six hundred ten (610) students, thirty-eight (38) teachers and eleven (11) ancillary staff were affected by the September 2021 North West Secondary Fire.

It should be noted that of the four (4) school fires within the last two years, two were maliciously set by person/persons who have no regard for the future development of the nation’s children.

Minister Benn wishes to remind the public that there are harsh penalties attached to arson attacks, and once identified; the perpetrator/s will face the full brunt of the law.

The use of smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, water sprinkler systems and other fire prevention measures is recommended.

Again, the Ministry of Home Affairs urges teachers, parents, students and supporting staff of all schools to remain vigilant of their surroundings and report any suspicious activities to the relevant authorities.