Last update: 11-Dec-2013 4:05 am
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Students of South East Port-of-Spain Government Secondary School put on their uniforms yesterday for the first time in three weeks. But instead of going to school, along with angry parents, they went to the Ministry of Education to protest. They went to ask the minister, Dr Tim Gopeesingh, when they would be allowed to continue their education. They met parents of the Diego Martin Boys’ RC Primary School, who had already gathered at the ministry in St Clair, holding placards demanding the reopening of their school.
The protesters warned the Government that no school meant “no votes.” Mario Diaz, the father of two children at Diego Martin Boys’ RC, said parents just wanted to know what would be done regarding their children’s education. The Diego Martin school has been closed since the first week in September because of a pigeon infestation that had occurred since the last school year, when the school had been closed for several weeks.
“They did try to eradicate the pigeons but what has happened is that the pigeons don’t live on the compound but visit the compound during the day,” Diaz said. He said pupils and teachers have been falling sick and have had to stay away from school. The school was closed two weeks ago but reopened earlier this week when workers tried to catch and exterminate pigeons flying into the school grounds. They caught a kiskadee and no pigeons, one parent said.
Parents and students from South East called on ministry officials to find alternative arrangements to educate their children. Shanelle Dixon, mother of a Form Three student at South East, said it was the Government’s responsibility to find other arrangements to ensure students were not affected by the school’s closure.
“They have been home for the past three weeks and we had a meeting yesterday with the PTA and the school officials to ask them what would happen with the students, but nobody could give us definite answers,” said Dixon. “Nobody has an answer. If we don’t have proper education, it will result in more negativity in this country. “That school has been in a mess for years, we need them to fix the school but find other arrangements for students.”
At around 11 am, ministry staff invited representatives from each school into a meeting with representatives from the Education Facilities Company Ltd (EFCL). Media co-ordinator at the ministry Yolanda Carvalho-Morales said the ministry had assured the Diego Martin school that classes would reopen next Tuesday. “EFCL had completed 98 per cent of the work on the school. The problem was that the pigeons do not live in the school building but in buildings in the surrounding area,” Carvalho-Morales said.
As for South East Secondary, Carvalho-Morales said the school would reopen on November 28.
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