Longdenville school protest
By Richardson Dhalai Tuesday, October 15 2013
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Parents and students of Longdenville Presbyterian Primary School stand in front the Longdenville school with placards as they protest for a new school...
Frustrated that their cries for a new school building has fallen on deaf ears for the past 14 years, parents of students enrolled at the Longdenville Presbyterian School, at Longdenville Main Road, who have not attended classes since the beginning of the September school term, engaged in a noisy placard demonstration outside of the school’s compound yesterday.
The student population, numbering approximately 175 students, were subsequently divided between the present school site, an annex on the compound of then Robinson Memorial Presbyterian Church and the Longdenville Government Primary School.
However, PTA president Candice Francis, described conditions at the annex as “poor” saying the building lacked proper ventilation and lighting facilities and were also in violation of health and safety standards.
“The building is too small for the amount of children that have to be in there, there is no proper points of entrance or egress at this location, it is not well ventilated so it is very hot and there is poor lighting,” Francis said, adding only first and second year classes, numbering approximately 40 students were housed at the annex.
“The toilet facilities are inadequate, there is no area for them to do any of the new programmes that the Ministry is requesting that they do, drama, music, art, sports, agri science, and because of the conditions at the Longdenville Government School, the teachers have decided to stay away from classes so our children have not been out to school since the start of the school term,” she added.
Francis said the school has been split for the past 13 years, though some two years ago, they had been promised lands in Cashew Gardens for the construction of a new school.
“They told us within two years we would get a school, it has since been two years and we still do not have a school. The teachers are tired and fed up, the parents are tired and fed up and we do not want our children in this situation we are in right now,” she added.
“We are not going back to the Longdenville Government Primary School, we want something where all of our children can be controlled in one environment,” she said.
Another parent, Arlene Lewis observed that the school’s Standard Five pupils are not able to prepare for the SEA exams next year and called for the use of an interim building to house all of the students.
In a telephone interview yesterday, general secretary of the Presbyterian Primary Schools board, Felix Rampersad said the Board was “very concerned” that the students were “not being attended to” saying the EFCL had been informed of the inadequate conditions at the school and had promised to work on the facility.
“We are trying to get a workable solution to the problem and have even asked the church to reconsider use of its building as a temporary measure, but we are not getting any type of cooperation from the staff,” he said, and noted that a planned meeting last Friday to discuss the issue with members of staff had failed to materialise due to the non-attendance of the staff.
“We are very concerned that the students are not being attended to, that is our main concern,” he said, while efforts to contact Ministry of Education officers were unsuccessful.
Parents have vowed heightened protest action if their pleas continue to be ignored, said one parent, who requested anonymity.
Meanwhile, classes at the Pleasantville Secondary School is expected to resume today, approximately six weeks after the official start of the new school term.
In a telephone interview, TTUTA staff representative, Navin Ramai said members of the teaching staff had agreed to attend classes on half days from 8.10 am to 11.40 am, to allow the contractors to complete works at the school.
He said while work had been restarted at the school it was proceeding “slowly” and a decision had been taken to give the contractor the evening half of the day to continue construction works.
“There is still a lot of work to be done, the box drains and a lot of sanitisation work’s still to be done,” Ramai said.
Meanwhile joy was short-lived at the Union Presbyterian School in Claxton Bay yesterday. Staff and students returned to the Union Village Community Centre to see lights on and air conditioning units cooling the hot classrooms.
However PTA President Betty Seetaram said electricity went suddenly around lunch time plunging the school into dankness. She is hoping the problem would be rectified by today.