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News > Latin America

Honduras Moves to Secure 'Unsafe' Schools After Student Murder

  • A police officer cordons off a clandestine cemetery discovered in El Lolo neighborhood, on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, July 21, 2017.

    A police officer cordons off a clandestine cemetery discovered in El Lolo neighborhood, on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, July 21, 2017. | Photo: Reuters

Published 10 October 2018

In a new but unclear strategy, President Hernandez says he wants to make schools safer with the help of USAID and education administrators.

In the wake of a school shooting in Honduras that left two students dead, President Juan Orlando Hernandez (JOH), with the support of the United States International Development Agency (USAID), announced that he wants to make schools safer by increasing security in an attempt to curb violence within schools and other educational centers.

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Under the "Prevention and Security Strategy: Learning Safe For Our Future," Hernandez said his government is trying to make students feel safe in their classrooms. According to the Honduran National Pedagogical University, 60 percent of all K-12 Honduran students don’t feel safe in, or going to and from school.

Marcial Solis, secretary of education, said Tuesday, "What we are looking for is not to bring the police to schools, but maintain student security."

It is still unclear, however, what policies authorities will use to improve school security systems and what mechanism will be put in place to involve school administration, from principals to teachers, and students in the process.  

A report presented by government officials found that weapons are available in one in seven schools, and are found at higher rates in the departments of Atlantida and Cortes near the densely populated city of San Pedro Sula. Another study by the Observatory of Violence at the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH) found that over 15,522 murders took place within the vicinity of educational centers between 2010 and 2016. 

This initiative will impact the day to day lives of 1.9 million students currently enrolled in the state education system.

President Hernandez alluded to the new program on Sept. 18 when touring several schools saying that schools in Honduras often have to shut down, sometimes “staying open for 60 days per year” because of violence in and around the nation’s schools.

On Sept. 1, 18-year-old Gerson Daniel Meza Medina and 19-year-old Mario Enrique Suarez Gomez, students at the Honduras Technical Institute (ITH), were killed by men posing as members of the Honduran Technical Agency of Criminal Investigation (ATIC).

Though the Honduran homicide rate decreased significantly between 2012 and 2016, killings are still significantly high in the Central American country with a population of just over nine million people. In 2017, there were 42.8 killings per 100,000 people on average.

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