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TTUTA to ministry: Seven schools out, 2,000 affected
The T&T Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) is calling on the Education Ministry to address urgently issues at seven schools where there are no classes, resulting in over 2,000 students being affected. Teachers have refused to work and some parents are keeping their children home because of a range of issues, including rat infestation, leaking sewers, mould outbreak and dilapidated structures. The schools are: Princes Town East Secondary, Princes Town West Secondary, Santa Rita RC in Rio Claro, Vos Government Primary in Gasparillo, Erin Road Presbyterian, Exchange RC in Couva and North Manzanilla Government.
TTUTA’s second vice-president, Lynsley Doodhai, said yesterday, “TTUTA is extremely concerned at the number of schools that have had to be closed since the new term started. “We are even more concerned about the conditions under which many of our members are expected to work. TTUTA will not under any circumstances allow our members to work in sub-standard conditions.” He called on the ministry to address the issues so that teaching and learning was not further compromised. The T&T Guardian obtained a copy of a letter TTUTA sent to the ministry yesterday, urging it to address issues at the 38-year-old Princes Town West, where teachers walked off the job on Tuesday. “The teachers have been trying their best to cope with the dangerous situation for quite a long time and have reached the stage where they are no longer willing to risk their health and safety and that of the students,” it said.
Termites, rats and gas leaks among issues
Among the issues are termite-ridden work stations, leaking gas lines and leaking chemical-storage facilities at the chemistry, biology and physics labs. Missing ceilings and windows, mould in several classrooms, rusty steel beams, unstable steps and the toilets at the technical vocational block have also been condemned. Santa Rita RC’s PTA representative, Affi Yearwood, said there had been no classes since Monday because of rat droppings and a leaking sewer. She said on Tuesday representatives from the ministry visited the school but the school had received no word since. “We have no choice but to keep our children home because the rat droppings are causing irritation to the children’s skin, eyes and throat,” she added.
Collin James, a parent, complained about a mould outbreak and a non-functioning air-conditioning system at Princes Town East Secondary which caused teachers to walk off the job two weeks ago. TTUTA has called for air testing but nothing had been done so far, it said. At Vos Government teachers refused to work on January 13 because of problems with the electrical system, rat infestation, toilets and drain coverings. Teachers returned on Monday but school was dismissed because of the rat problem. Rat bait was placed in the school but when teachers returned yesterday the problem was still there and they left. A rat infestation also caused the closure of Erin Road Presbyterian last Wednesday and Exchange RC was closed because of a sewer problem. And since the new school term opened North Manzanilla Government has been closed because the building has been deemed unsafe.