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Arima Hindu classes in termite-ridden school

By Rachael Espinet Saturday, August 30 2014

When the academic year begins on Tuesday, the students of the Arima Hindu Primary School will return to their termite-ridden classrooms.

The school at Temple Street, Arima remains in disrepair and no alternative site has been found to relocate them.

Secretary General of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS), Satnarayan Maharaj said yesterday, “The school is opening next week and we will be operating like we usually do. We are not too sure where we are going to be, but it looks like we are going to be in the same old building. It does not appear that we would be getting Arima New Government.”

SDMS officials tried to acquire the vacant building of the Arima New Government School on Simone Street to temporarily house the Arima Hindu Primary School students. However, the Arima Central Secondary School was in a bid with Arima Hindu Primary School to use the unoccupied building. Due to the deteriorated state of the New Government School building, neither school will be able to use it.

A report from the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) stated the teachers from Arima Hindu Primary walked off the school compound on Tuesday due to unsafe working conditions.

A Ministry of Education official said the 1960 Concordat on denominational schools said it was the responsibility of their boards to find land for their schools, and this should be the case for Arima Hindu Primary.

At the Arima Central Secondary, with just four more days for schools to re-open following their eight-week vacation, “not much work” has been done at the secondary school, according to Samuel Strann, president of the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA).

The only work that was done, he said, was on the school’s library floor. He emphasised the repair work promised by the Ministry had not begun.

“Nothing much was done. The only work that was done was on the library floor, but the work that was promised to us was not done on the school,” Strann said.

To manage the school’s overcrowding problem, for months the PTA has been lobbying the Ministry of Education to allow Arima Central students to use the adjacent unoccupied Arima New Government school building.

Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh promised the parents and school administration that work would be done on the school during the vacation period so they would not need to move to another building.

The repair work needed included fixing the school’s wooden flooring which was infested with termites; bat-proofing the building; adding extensions to the school and improving the classrooms.

Strann told Newsday that only the library floors were changed during the vacation.

These two schools were not the only ones with infrastructural problems. TTUTA president Davanand Sinanan said he has received some reports from principals that the repairs to their school were not completed during the vaction.

Teachers from Plumb Road Presbyterian in Lower Manzanilla entered a school without a roof. Sangre Grande RC Primary School could not open yesterday for teachers.

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