Students go home
CECILY ASSON Tuesday, September 4 2012
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WE RULE: Pigeons in the yard of the South Oropouche RC Primary School, which was closed yesterday after teachers deemed classrooms unhygienic to occup...
PIGEON droppings, cracks in the walls, rotted flooring and leaking toilets. These were what students, their parents and teachers met at several schools in south Trinidad, on the first day of the new term yesterday.
As a result students of several schools in the southland, including the Marabella Boys’ Anglican Primary, Marabella Girls Anglican Primary, South Oropouche Roman Catholic Primary, the Fifth Company Anglican Primary and Santa Flora Government Primary schools were all told to go back home as classes were cancelled for the day.
While some students left the school others remained in the yard of their schools — even up to the midday lunch time period — waiting on their parents.
Parents of children attending classes at South Oropouche Roman Catholic Primary, Fifth Company Anglican Primary and the Santa Flora Government Primary schools complained of leaking toilets, rotting flooring, no electricity, poor ventilation and droppings from pigeons.
At the Palo Seco Secondary School some students left classes early following an outbreak of a skin rash. Both the Moruga Secondary and Cowen Hamilton Secondary schools were closed yesterday because students were unable to attend classes due to fiery protests by residents over poor road conditions. The protests which saw several major roads being blocked with burning debris led to a major traffic pile-up.
At 8.15 am, a CEPEP crew was on the compound of the Marabella Boys’ Primary school cutting overgrown grass as they tried to beat the bell for the morning assembly. Next door, at the girls’ school, officials were busy trying to relocate students to safer areas on that compound.
President of the past pupils association Alan Campbell called on the Ministry of Education to build two new schools instead of repairing the existing buildings. According to Campbell, the girls’ school was constructed in 1945 while the boys’ school was built in 1952.
Over the years, infrastructure at both schools had deteriorated to the point where now, it is not safe to have students and teachers in these buildings. “The schools are no longer conducive to learning. Although Marabella is considered by some as crime hot-spot, no effort is made to ensure that at least the schools are in shape to accommodate students. A school is where young lives are moulded and shaped,” Campbell said.
A total of 155 boys attend the boys’ school with a teaching staff of 14 while at the nearby girls’ school, 158 girls are enrolled with a teaching staff of 12.
At the South Oropouche Roman Catholic Primary School, the school’s PTA president Pauline Philbert said that teachers came out to work yesterday, but were unable to perform their duties because of the stench of pigeon droppings which stained the floor and desks of classrooms.
“The pigeons live in the ceiling of the building. We are tired of complaining about this over the years. It’s absolutely ridiculous,” Philbert said. “The PTA is supportive of the teachers. We know they are ready to work. But they can’t because the pigeons are all over the classroom. Today while standing here, two pigeons flew inside and left their droppings on the table,” she complained.
Crista Glasgow, president of the Santa Flora Government Primary School PTA expressed concern that no repair work had been done at the school over the just concluded two-month vacation period.
“Contractors are now on site trying to do some work.
The entire school is in need of repairs,” Glaasgow said. “Parents brought their children this morning and when they realised what was going on they took their children and left,” she said. “Teachers came and held a meeting among themselves before they left.”
Efforts yesterday to reach both Minister of Education Dr Tim Gopeesingh and his communications specialist Yolanda Morales-Carvalho, for comment on the problems facing these southern schools, proved futile.