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148 schools attacked in two years

Eductaion ministry reports phobia, concerns among students, teachers

Gulf News

Manama: Attacks on around 150 schools in Bahrain have caused an estimated overall damage of BD 1.5 million, an education ministry official has said.

“In less than two years, 148 of Bahrain’s 206 government schools have come under attack and have been vandalized,” Fawaz Al Sherooqi, the head of public relations and media, said. “In the last three months, we had 70 attacks on schools. Saboteurs used Molotov cocktails and chained school gates spilled oil on roads to prevent students and teachers from reaching schools. In some instances, they attacked school guards,” he said.

Al Sherooqi said that 11 schools were attacked and vandalized on February 14, the anniversary of the events that unfolded in Bahrain in 2011 and caused deep social and political divisions within the country over their merit and purpose.

The attacks on that day cost Bahrain BD87,500 while attacks on March 14 when demonstrators attempted to bring the country to a standstill to mark the second anniversary of the arrival of the Peninsula Shield troops, the military arm of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) into Bahrain, caused BD103,000 in damage, the official said at a press conference.

The attacks have prompted the ministry to “coordinate with the interior ministry to install CCTV cameras in schools to curb the phenomenon.”

“There is now permanent coordination with the interior ministry to tackle these aggressions. We now have a higher number of patrols near schools and we have increased the number of guards after providing them with an adequate training. We have also installed surveillance cameras so far in the schools targeted in multiple attacks and we will equip ten more learning facilities soon,” he said.

Al Sherooqi said that efforts have been launched to boost social partnership to protect schools from being attacked and to raise awareness of the need not to involve schools in non-educational issues.

The official said that there were no plans to postpone the final exams even if more schools are targeted and curricula are affected.

“There were attempts to annul and void the academic year in 2011 and they failed. New attempts will also fail,” he said.

The targeting of schools has also had negative effects on the students as well, Special Education Acting Director Khalid Mahmood Al Saeedi said at the conference.

“The incidents have had their psychological impact on the students and have affected their performance.,” he said. “We had to address 5,200 individual cases that needed treatment, although they varied in their intensity. Most of those affected were in the elementary levels,” he said.

The ministry is aware that the effects will not disappear quickly and that they will remain with many of the students, especially the younger ones, he said.

“Some students have reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, including phobia about going to school, anxiety and the inability to socialise in the school. Physical symptoms include headaches, stomach pain and bedwetting,” he said.

Al Saeedi said several teachers have requested to be transferred from “trouble schools” to more serene surroundings.