Students locked out
By DARCEL CHOY Tuesday, October 9 2012
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BACK TO HOME: Students of Malick Secondary School, with their parents, leave for home after meeting locked gates yesterday morning at the Aranjuez Nor...
STUDENTS of Malick Secondary School who were expected to start classes at Aranjuez North Secondary yesterday, were left disappointed as they and their parents met locked gates at the Aranjuez school.
The students have not attended classes this term after fire broke out in August because of faulty electrical wiring. Repairs were not done in time for school to reopen. Last week Monday, students and their parents protested outside the Malick school and then at the Ministry of Education in St Clair, demanding repairs be done and the school reopened.
But Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh last night gave a time frame of one week for repair work to be completed at this school and to have it reopened next week.
In the meantime, students were to have been temporarily located at the building which formerly housed the Aranjuez North Secondary School, starting from yesterday. Last Friday, president of the Parent/Teachers Association of Aranjuez North Glenn Williams said they were not in favour of Malick students using their school. When Malick students arrived for classes yesterday at the Aranjuez school, the front gate was padlocked.
President of the Malick Parent/Teachers Association Onika Buckmire said it was found that Aranjuez North would not have been suitable for the entire Malick school population.
“Aranjuez still uses part of the old building and there is no access to the toilet area and other areas as well. We are not pleased because we feel like they are not treating this like it is an important issue. But it is. Children need to go to school...we are upset,” she said
Buckmire said she was told that a meeting was held yesterday with Education Ministry officials and a decision made to try relocating the Form Five classes as a first priority.
She said the ministry is looking at utilising the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) in Coconut Drive, Morvant which has remained unopened since completion.
In his contribution to the Budget debate in Parliament last night, Dr Gopeesingh said: “Mr Speaker, that school is 45 years old. A block was burnt out and two other areas were completely burnt. We have completed the electrical work and took away the stand-by generator.
“The Electrical Inspectorate has passed the system,” Gopeesingh said. He revealed that it would cost $4.5 million to complete repair work and a decision is pending from his Permanent Secretary to give the three contractors working at the school the go-ahead to proceed with their work.
“This (repairs) will have to be completed within a week and we will have this school opened for the students,” Gopeesingh said. Earlier, Opposition PNM MP for Port-of-Spain North/St Ann’s West Patricia McIntosh demanded answers as to why the Malick school was still closed.
Meanwhile, at the La Horquetta South Government, students did not return to school yesterday as officials are awaiting a health official to give the all clear for their return.
Students were asked to stay away from classes last week after teachers refused to report to work because of a pigeon infestation. Last Thursday, officials from the Education Facilities Company Limited (EFCL) toured the school to make assessments. Parents were told work will begin immediately and continue through the weekend to ensure the school was ready for students yesterday.
When Newsday visited the school, workmen were repairing sections of the roof. President of the PTA Gillian Husbands said most of the work was complete and the school was sanitised and power washed. She said once health official give the all clear, students could return to school.