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Ministry promises to find places for students
Despite a commitment by the Ministry of Education to find schools for all students who make requests from the St Martin’s Girls’ High School in Belmont, parents remain opposed to the school’s closure. In a brief telephone interview yesterday, media relations co-ordinator at the Ministry of Education Yolanda Morales-Carvalho said the school was a private one managed by the Catholic board.
“What we can do is facilitate transfers for those students that make requests,” Carvalho said. She said though it was usually difficult to get transfers for students, the ministry would see all of them were enrolled in other schools. A visit to the school yesterday met a typical school day, with girls laughing and conversing in an enclosed schoolyard.
The principal refused to speak to a T&T Guardian news team, saying she was having lunch. Five minutes later, she sent another message that she did not want to speak to or hear anything from the media. In a telephone interview, Amanda Douglas, parent of a 14-year-old student at the school, said she was concerned for the more than 500 girls who were being “put out” of the school.
“My daughter was going to Morvant/Laventille Secondary School and there was a lot of trouble with the school being closed down and teachers not coming out,” she said. “I decided to put her in St Martin’s in March and now they are telling me they have to close down.”
Douglas said she started hearing rumours in July about the school being closed down but when she called the school, she was told it was a rumour. “When school reopened in September they held a meeting and read a letter stating that the archbishop was closing down the school.
“We asked if it was a financial problem…Parents wanted to help out any way they could,” said Douglas. She said officials at the school denied the issue was a financial one and said the people who ran the school were putting 500 “girl children” into schools that had their own problems.
She said last month the school officials sent home all the Form Four girls then changed their mind and took them back in. “The school environment is unstable but the teachers there work hard with our kids,” Douglas said. “Every day it is something different. They sent a letter recently saying if parents don’t come to a meeting students would not be admitted to class.”
Sources at the school complained that while the students were being fitted in where possible by the Education Ministry, teachers faced unemployment when the school closes next July.
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