Review security at educational institutions

An ITE director was murdered at the ITE College Central campus in 2018.
An ITE director was murdered at the ITE College Central campus in 2018.PHOTO: ST FILE

The recent fight that broke out at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College West and involved a dangerous weapon (Girl arrested for attacking another girl with dangerous weapon at ITE College West, Feb 22) is the latest in a series of safety lapses at our educational institutions.

It follows the murder of an ITE director at the ITE College Central campus in 2018, the scuffle involving students in a Temasek Polytechnic lecture theatre in 2018, the fight between 20 ITE students near a construction site in 2016, and the slashing attack at ITE College West in 2015.

The Ministry of Education urgently needs to review the safety measures in place to protect lives in our educational institutions.

There has to be a way to keep such incidents from happening year after year. The presence of dangerous weapons in educational institutions must be prevented at all costs.

Fortunately, only two of the four incidents in past years involved weapons. We must not wait till the frequency of the use of weapons goes up.

Screening must be done before anyone enters an educational institution's premises, as is being done in campuses in the United States.

We do not want what happened in China, where attackers wielding knives were able to enter school premises and attack children, to be repeated in Singapore.

News of such incidents can be spread using social media, and there is the risk that people suffering from stress, depression, or who are mentally unsound will try to stage copycat attacks.

Education and counselling are only part of the solution.

It was recently reported that Singapore's overall crime rate has gone up. Measures must be taken to drastically reduce it if we are to maintain Singapore's reputation as a safe haven, and I hope that the authorities will act swiftly.

Gabriel Ong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 26, 2019, with the headline 'Review security at educational institutions'. Print Edition | Subscribe