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APNU denies involvement in school protests

Port Kaituma Secondary students picketing last week.

The APNU has denied any involvement in a number of protests which occurred recently at several schools across the country.

Protests have been held at schools at Port Kaituma, Parika-Salem, Mahdia and in the city.

Cabinet Secretary Dr. Roger Luncheon last week said the protests were associated with the APNU. At least one APNU MP was reportedly on the scene of the Parika-Salem protest.

“It would be quite impossible for any single party to coordinate these protests, these are spontaneous protests launched by students, by teachers, by Parent Teachers Associations so I’d like to start by rejecting the accusations made by Dr. Roger Luncheon that the APNU had anything at all to do with these protests,” APNU Chairman David Granger told reporters in a brief statement Friday.

The Education Ministry in a statement on Saturday said that while it recognised the constitutional right of all persons to demonstrate peacefully and freely, protests should not interfere with public order and/or hinder the rights and freedoms of other persons. Protests, the Ministry added, must be used only as the last option. “Best practice dictates that protest be used as a last resort rather than as the first way to bring attention to a problem, whether real or perceived.”

Parents, guardians, concerned residents and other persons, the Ministry advised, should first seek to resolve their grievances in an organised manner rather than resorting to placards or be perceived as politically antagonistic.

The ministry added that there were numerous established ways and means existing to allow for healthy engagements in order to address issues that touch and concern schools and school children. The first place to begin would be the school’s administration- head teacher, deputy head teacher, the local Education Departments, the Ministry of Education, the Chief Education Officer, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and the Minister of Education it indicated.