A recent incident in which 12-year-old Tatiana Jarquín was attacked with a knife by four fellow students at the Liceo Experimental Bilingüe, in La Trinidad de Moravia, north of San José, has drawn new attention to the problem of violence in Costa Rica’s public schools.
According to the Public Education Ministry, which has categorized 200 schools as “highly dangerous,” according to the daily La Nación, gangs and societal problems are making themselves felt in classrooms.
Students and teachers from various schools told the daily that aggressive students have created an atmosphere of insecurity and fear at many sites.
The Education Ministry is working with the Public Security Ministry to create prevention plans against violence in at least 15 schools, though the list of schools is still being defined, the daily reported.
Some educators – such as Carlos Artavia, who still suffers nasal hemorrhages as a result of a beating he received from a student in August – point to the 30-day limit on suspensions as the culprit for recurring problems. Education Minister Manuel Antonio Bolaños told the daily he agrees, but that the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV) tied the ministry’s hands by ruling that expulsion violates the constitutional right to education.
Two of Tatiana Jarquín’s aggressors were suspended for 10 days, then ordered to serve two months in a juvenile detention center, according to La Nación.