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International News: Jamaican Ministry of Education investigating ‘collapse’ of hundreds of students at rural high school

Posted: Saturday, October 29, 2022. 3:42 pm CST.

Photo Credit: Jamaica Observer

By Aaron Humes: Jamaica’s Ministry of Education is investigating a protocol for school devotions after around 200 students fainted during morning devotion at a rural high school on Wednesday, the Jamaica Observer reports.

Minister Fayval Williams said school leaders are responsible for the content and impact of devotion in school following the reaction of students at Oberlin High School, scores of whom “dropped like flies” per one anonymous school staff member after a teacher shared the word of God.

The teacher was encouraging an end to killings in schools which apparently caused many students to faint, leading to classes being dismissed. But according to the anonymous staff members, most students were still scared and some were still fainting as they left the campus, resulting in a halt to traffic in front of the school as passers-by stopped to assist. The member described the entire incident as “demonic” but maintained that it is a result of not putting God above everything. She added that she, too, got terrified and that this incident only strengthened the desire to “live closer to God”.

Classes have since resumed and Acting Principal Antonnette Gray sought to clarify the occurrences in an official statement: “On Wednesday at 7:40 am the school convened for general assembly. One of the teachers had previously expressed her desire to pass on a ‘word for the students’, and she was given the opportunity to share that message. After the message was passed on, a number of students collapsed. …Based on my humble opinion, during the worship some students were overpowered by the anointing and started to worship aloud while a few others had to be taken to the nurse because they could not control themselves, and a few had also fainted. We believe that some of the students, seeing what was happening, naturally became afraid.”

Member of Jamaica’s Parliament for St Andrew West Rural, Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, attended the school and confirmed that there was no attribution of the fainting spells to other causes such as chemicals in the air. She said the education ministry will do the necessary assessments, with its team of psychologists and social workers, and provide the help the affected students need.

Belize has seen occasional instances of supposed “demon possession” and similar unusual activity at schools, most recently at Hattieville Government School in February of 2018 and at Big Falls Roman Catholic School in Toledo the previous year.

 

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