All sectors of the economy have been affected by the recession gripping T&T.
The education system has not been left untouched.
While La Brea pupils turned up in their numbers yesterday for the start of the new school term, it was not the same for children living near oil-spill affected Coffee Beach. That after most of the parents directly affected by the December 17, 2013 spill opted to keep their children away from school for varying reasons yesterday. When the T&T Guardian visited Coffee Beach yesterday children were seen milling about outside their homes during school hours.La Brea mother of eight, Charmaine Montano, said her 12-year-old son stayed home from school because his school was expected to re-open on January 20.
However, she said two of her nephews and her granddaughter stayed home because they were feeling unwell. “The children feeling sick. They throat hurting them. We had to carry the children by the doctor. My son complain of chest pains and they did not do any tests, they just give me something to rub on his chest. This is how they dealing with people in here, they unfair,” Montano said. She said residents still have some hope that Petrotrin would “do right by them” and help the residents. While clean-up operations continued in the area Montano said they were still unable to cook their own meals. She said the state-run company was providing meals for the residents and has set up a medical clinic at the La Brea Community Centre. However, she believes the residents should be relocated to proper homes and should not have to be made to pay for something that was not their fault. Mariah John, 13, Montano’s niece, said she did not attend school yesterday because she was not feeling well. She attends the Vance River RC Primary School. Yesterday workers were seen tying oil booms along the shore to trap oil. The sand on the shore, which was once covered with a layer of oil, has regained its brown hue, a stark contrast from the last two weeks when it was stained with black oil.
No disruptions in La Brea
Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh, in a radio interview, indicated that there was no disruption to schools in La Brea and it was business as usual on the first day of the new school term.
Yesterday Education Ministry media relations officer Yolanda Morales-Carvalho confirmed the schools in the La Brea area opened as expected and had a good turnout of students. She said at the La Brea Roman Catholic Primary School, Church Street, La Brea, 300 pupils attended school out of a population of 376. Morales-Carvalho added the 76 absent students could not be attributed to the oil spill that was affecting the southwestern peninsula. “It (the absent pupils) could be different reasons. Sometimes people travel and they claim could not get back in time for school,” she explained. She said 300 out of a population of 376 was “a pretty good turnout.” When the T&T Guardian visited the school last afternoon the school’s front gate was locked. A security officer said the principal ordered that no media personnel be allowed onto the compound. Students were assembled in the school auditorium at that time with their teachers. At the Brighton Anglican Primary School, Main Road, La Brea, the turnout was also high. Out of a population of 202 pupils 144 turned up for school yesterday.