Prime Minister Holness Visits, Consoles Clan Carthy Primary School Family

Jamaica News: Less than 24 hours after the untimely death of seven-year-old Clan Carthy Primary School student, Benjamin Bair, Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, visited the institution on Deanery Road in Kingston on Tuesday (October 29) to console Principal, Sheldon Richards, and the teachers and students, who have been badly shaken up by the mishap.

Tragedy struck on Monday (October 28) after Benjamin, who was in grade two, died after a garbage truck that was removing refuse from the school compound was suddenly set in motion, crashed into a parked motor car, and overturned on the youngster, pinning him on the ground. He died on the spot.

Prime Minister Holness arrived at Clan Carthy on Tuesday, shortly before classes ended for the day, and spoke with Mr. Richards, to whom he extended heartfelt sympathies.

“This is truly a great tragedy. It saddens me deeply and I am certain that the teaching staff and the school community, generally, are very saddened by this. We want to extend to Benjamin’s parents, our deepest sympathies,” Mr. Holness said.

The Prime Minister said the incident has sparked discussions about how school facilities are managed in relation to garbage collection, and safeguards for students.

He emphasised that “there is still an obligation on the part of the Government to review these incidents when they do occur, to ensure that they don’t reoccur”.

To this end, Mr. Holness said the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information will be investigating the incident “to see what elements of it could have been prevented”.

“There are many elements, just from a cursory examination, that I think we could start exploring, such as setting collection times that do not overlap with school times, ensuring that there is a service level standard set in the contracts for garbage collections, so that you can regulate the state of repair of the trucks that are used to collect garbage and many other areas that I and the Minister of Education and the Minister of State, will look at along with the technical professionals at the Ministry of Education,” he said.

The Prime Minister said this intervention “is separate and apart from the police, who will conduct their own investigations, and any civil claims that may arise from it”.

“But from a policy point of view, we {Government) have a duty to ensure that these things don’t happen again,” he added.

Mr. Holness gave the assurance that the Administration will continue to do what is necessary to safeguard the nation’s children while they are at school.

Meanwhile, the deceased child’s classroom bore reminders of the time he spent there up to his untimely demise. His name was still at the top of the registration chart, as is his artwork on the wall.

However, his unoccupied desk and chair, arguably, bore the starkest reminder of the mishap, prompting class teacher, Natasha Forrester, to describe the youngster’s loss as “devastating”.

“Benjamin was a fun-loving child. He was inclusive in his friendship… meaning, it didn’t matter who you were or how you behaved, he was accepting of your friendship. He was a quiet student in class. But as quiet as he was, he was also a jovial child, and his classmates and myself will really miss him, because he is one of those students who everyone got along with,” she told JIS News said.

Prime Minister Holness also spoke with other teachers and students, whom he offered words of encouragement.

He was accompanied by State Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Alando Terrelonge, who also offered words of comfort to Benjamin’s family, teachers and classmates.


Source: JIS News

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