Principals unhappy with school repairs
By RACHAEL ESPINET Thursday, August 22 2013
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LITTLE CUTIE: Two-year-old Zackira Hoyte of St James, Port-of-Spain, poses for the camera as she waits for her mother on Tuesday on Frederick Street i...
With one week to go before teachers return to school, Lindsay Doodhai, president of the Primary School Principals Association, said he is not pleased with the progress of school repairs.
Doodhai told Newsday yesterday that no work has been done on some schools on the list for repairs and that many in need of repairs did not make it onto the list.
“We are in the process of assessing the repairs and we are not too pleased with what we are hearing. Some principals are saying they are in need of repairs and are not on the list. Some who are on the list have not received any repairs,” he said.
Doodhai said while the association’s assessment is preliminary, approximately 20 primary schools across the country have complained about lack of repairs.
Two schools, he noted, that are in need of repairs are Diego Martin Boys’ RC Primary and Tunapuna RC Primary. He said Tunapuna’s principal told him the toilets are in a state of disrepair and therefore the school might not open at the start of the new school year.
Diego Martin Boys’ was forced to send its students home a month before the last term ended due to a pigeon infestation. Though the pigeons were exterminated and the school sanitised, it is still in need of serious repair work, he said.
Mario Diaz, who has two sons attending the school, said the contract for repair works was only awarded yesterday.
On the list of works needed at this school are repairs to safety railings, painting, plumbing in the bathrooms, major electrical works, and rehabilitation of fire hoses.
While Diaz was happy that the school is finally going to be repaired, he expressed concern that it would not be ready for the new school year.
“We have a week till school starts and I don’t think they can finish things on time. I hope they can finish the critical things before school starts. Some of the other things can be done on the weekend,” Diaz said.
Antonia De Freitas, first vice-president of the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA), told Newsday that TTUTA has been conducting surveys of schools to see the progress of the repairs. Yesterday they went to the Caroni district and received a list of schools that are not ready for the new school year.
She was concerned that the schools would not open on time and students would not have the teaching needed.
“We don’t want teachers to be blamed if there is a loss of teaching time. Teachers have to return to work next week Thursday. We would hope that when teachers come out on the 29th the schools would be ready for them,” she said.
Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh said while he understands the many concerns about school repairs, he asked that stakeholders also understand that the ministry received approximately 400 requests for repairs and it did not have the time or funds to carry all of them out.
“Some schools are more than 50 years old. All 400 schools cannot be done. We assess what are high priority, but we have to work with the schools that are most in need of repair. We are trying our best. I would like them to understand the bigger picture,” the minister said.
He said some schools need to be rebuilt, and there are 30 schools with electrical problems so severe that their repair works total $25 million.
Gopeesingh said schools should not start late because many were operating well before the term ended.
He said the schools that are yet to be repaired will have works done on evenings and weekends.