The Costa Rican government is calling for greater security in the country’s schools after a student walked into the office of a school principal last Thursday and shot her in the head. The attack occurred at the Colegio Montebello, a private school in Heredia.
The principal, Nancy María Chaverri, remains in delicate condition after being taken to San José’s Hospital México.
“If we are doing some things, we have to be doing more,” President Laura Chinchilla said at a press conference Monday, after speaking to the affected families over the weekend. “We need a more ambitious program to confront violence in schools.”
The Ombudswoman’s Office asked teachers to “use dialogue, mediation and communication” to minimize or avoid conflict.
“We insist that education authorities follow up on situations that can generate conflict and that they intervene in a preventive and diligent manner,” read a statement issued Friday by the Ombudswoman’s Office. The National Association of Educators (ANDE) insisted that the Chinchilla administration address the loss of values in schools and implement tougher security measures.
“We demand that immediate action be taken in schools in the wake of the violence we are experiencing,” said ANDE President Alexander Ovares. “Teachers are helpless in situations like these and lack the support of the Education Ministry and the government to deal with situations of aggression.”
Authorities have yet to say what led the 17-year-old to enter Colegio Montebello with the intent to murder Chaverri. He is currently being held on two months of provisional detention.
The private school in Heredia where the incident occurred, Colegio Montebello, suspended classes on Friday, moving up the school’s mid-term vacation by one day.
According to the Education Ministry, incidents of violence between students are actually decreasing, from a reported 69,610 in 2003 to 35,492 in 2009. The number of reported cases of violence between teachers and students has also dropped, from 114,212 in 2003 to 63,986 in 2009.
For more on the issue of school violence, see “Bullying in School Lightens Up” in the July 2 issue of The Tico Times.