Last update: 08-Dec-2013 9:50 pm
Sunday, December 08, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
You are here
Dr Tim: Nightmare at Pleasantville school
While Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh yesterday urged parents to keep sick children at home, he could not provide a resolution for healthy students unable to attend the Pleasantville Secondary School. He said it might be a further two weeks before classes resumed at the school. Parents of students are expected to protest at the ministry in St Clair, Port-of-Spain, this morning.
Gopeesingh, speaking with journalists after the formal opening of the Lengua Presbyterian Primary School, Papaourie Road, Barrackpore, said problems at the Pleasantville school were a “nightmare” the government inherited from the PNM. He described the situation at the school as a disaster. He explained that a contractor was given the job to construct the school but work was not progressing so the contract was terminated for several reasons. That, he said, then evolved into a “legal problem.”
“We had to disentangle a legal situation with the Pleasantville Secondary School. “Now the existing one, of which part has been completed, we have to go and do repairs and maintenance work, disentangle all of the overhead cabling and so on and continue to construct what remains to be constructed in Pleasantville,” Gopeesingh said. He said San Fernando East MP, former Prime Minister Patrick Manning, personally called him and he assured the MP he would address the situation at the school.
Goopesingh added: “The whole electrical work in the school will cost about $8 million so we have inherited a nightmare. “We are trying to work as quickly as possible to ensure that the students and the teachers continue to be part of the education process. “I am personally looking after it. I understand that the teachers and the PTA are very unhappy but I will continue to work with them and do the best, as fast as possible for the benefit of the students.”
He said the principal told him teachers were working with most of the students online but he hoped the completion works would not take more than two weeks. He said the Education Facilities Company Ltd (EFCL) was working as fast as possible to have all outstanding school repairs completed. Gopeesingh said 229 projects were completed over the vacation but there were some problems with some of the schools.
Commenting on the H1N1 situation, he warned parents against sending sick children to school. He said: “We are going to ask the students or the parents of children who have the common cold to stay away from the schools during the viremic stage, this is, during the time they have the fever, the cough and the cold. “All in all it is going to be normal as ever but we are taking special precautions.”
The warning came hours after Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar mandated Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan to increase the purchase of H1N1 (swine flu) vaccines to 60,000. Thus far, the Ministry of Health has confirmed six cases of swine flu and two suspected deaths. Gopeesingh said the ministry was prepared to treat the issue the same way as two years ago, through awareness.
“What we are doing is sending out information to the various schools, to the various principals for prevention by ensuring good personal hygiene and thorough washing of hands,” he said. Gopeesingh assured if there were any severe or serious cases screening would be done. He said there were several differences between the symptoms of the common cold and the H1N1 virus.
Gopeesingh said one could tell H1N1 by the “rapidity and the severity of the symptoms. If you have severe body aches and severe headaches and severe lung problems or breathing problems, you know that it is one of these major problems,” he added. He and Public Utilities Minister Nizam Mohammed ceremonially cut the ribbon to open the school, even though students have been occupying the $28 million building since January 10, 2012.
He said he wanted to formally open to demonstrate Government’s commitment to provide quality education facilities to students nationwide. He denied yesterday’s ceremony was staged to coincide with local government elections campaigning. “Nothing to do with local government elections. Education transcends all politics. You do not play politics with the lives of children,” he added.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.