Last update: 07-Dec-2013 3:12 am
Saturday, December 07, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Gopeesingh: School maintenance inherited
Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh says school maintenance and repair is a task inherited by the previous administration. He says his ministry is working assiduously to ensure all schools are open. Some 20 schools remained closed at the opening of the new school term on Monday because of infrastructural, health and safety concerns raised by teaching staff and parents. “We were still able to move and build 51—32 early childhood, 14 primary and five secondary schools,” he added.
Speaking with reporters at the opening of the new $25 million Monkey Town Government Primary School, Barrackpore, on Wednesday evening, Gopeesingh said one of the problems with repairs was that proper procedure was not followed. He said principals of denominational schools were suppose to raise all issues related to their schools with their respective education boards.
The respective boards, he said, would then report the issues to the ministry. “They chose to hold it and at last week of school reopening gave it to us,” he added. With regards to the government schools, he said the principals took their concerns to the school supervisor, who then reported to the ministry. “These have not been complied with to a major extent, hence the reason for a number of them (repairs) being delayed,” he added.
In addition, he said, the ministry was constructing 17 new primary schools. He added: “We have 900-plus schools. There will be situations where we will have delays in construction and repairs. “As I said, we did over 850 projects in schools throughout T&T in three years and spent close to $500 million, using more than 550 small, medium and large contractors, that is an achievement in itself.” He said during the August vacation the ministry had completed 196 projects in early childhood, primary and secondary schools.
“If we have completed more than 98 per cent of 900 schools, that is tremendous task in itself. Every day five schools break down. In 18 months we had 939 emergency repairs to deal with in the school population. “So it is a humongous and a mammoth task,” he added. Gopeesingh said there was also a horrendous problem with a type of air-conditioning system installed in schools by the previous administration.
Asked about Pleasantville Secondary, where teachers walked off the job on Monday because of health and safety issues, including gang violence, Gopeesingh said: “Former prime minister Mr (Patrick) Manning (MP for San Fernando East) called me on Sunday evening and indicated to me that I should look into the school and immediately I sent a team down.” Gopeesingh said the ministry also had implemented several policies to deal with bullying and indiscipline in schools.
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