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No major hiccups as school reopens

Published: 
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Standard Four pupils of St Catherine’s Girls’ AC School, Duke Street, Port-of-Spain, were eager to start their new term yesterday.

The start of the new academic term brought with it some problems to at least one primary school in East Trinidad - the St Joseph Girls’ RC School — where remedial work was still in progress.

President of the T&T Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) Lindsay Doodhai yesterday called on Education Minister Anthony Garcia to immediately address the matter.

He said upon reporting for duty yesterday teachers met a facility that was unfit for occupation.

“I understand repairs are still ongoing on the roof and the electrical system in the school is incomplete. There is dust everywhere in the school and some parts of the building has no electricity and there is no safe place for teachers and students to occupy.

“They were told to go to a shaded area at the side of the building on the compound but that is totally unacceptable. There is no shaded area on the compound,” Doodhai said.

On what measures the union intended to take, he said, it was currently monitoring the situation and hoped it would be rectified soon.

There are 455 primary and 125 secondary schools in T&T with a combined student population of 200,000. On Friday, Garcia assured that all schools would be in a state of readiness for yesterday’s reopening of the term.

A statement from the Ministry yesterday said all schools reopened as planned. It stated that over the last three weeks, during the Christmas break, the Ministry in conjunction with the Education Facilities Company Ltd undertook repairs and maintenance projects to ensure all schools were ready.

Garcia also took the opportunity to send a positive and encouraging message to teachers, students and parents for continued success, good health and happiness in 2017 and beyond, “Let the mixture of excitement, nervousness and confidence in a new year inspire us to work together. Believe in fresh-starts and new beginnings. Believe in growth and potential and let us bring everyone together to empower our children for the betterment of our country,” the release said.

Last term the Montrose Vedic Primary School Doodhai had to be closed due to a flea infestation. The school was reopened yesterday and he said he hoped the issue had been resolved.

Last November, angry parents protested outside the Education Ministry’s office in Port-of-Spain demanding that the school be relocated as they said pupils were falling ill because of the problem. They had also complained that the issue started three years ago and since then nothing had been done.

Doodhai said the Cunupia Secondary School was reopened. That facility was closed last October after a fire gutted the administrated block of the building.

It was reported that the fire was an act of arson after teachers had confiscated a student’s mobile phone.

Doodhai said he was happy that both schools had reopened.

“But I am keeping my fingers crossed in the case of Montrose Vedic as that problem have been ongoing for some time...over two years now and the Ministry has tried a number of interventions in trying to get rid of the mites,” he said.

Asked about the problem at St Joseph Girls’ RC, Garcia said he was told by Chief Education Officer Harrilal Seecharan that no cleaners turned up at the school yesterday. He said from his information, there was no electrical issue.

“Only one teacher left because that person said they suffered from sinus and could not operate in that condition. But all the other teachers were present.

“But that school was ready and it opened today (yesterday). The problem was because of the cleaners,” Garcia said.

He said due to the circumstances the school was dismissed half day. Asked why the cleaners failed to show Garcia said he could not say.

Regarding other schools, the Minister said they were reopened without any hiccups.

He said the education of children would not be compromised by infrastructural issues. He said he was satisfied with the work done on affected schools.

“All our schools have been opened so that our students and teachers could have access to an education. The officials from Education Facilities Company Ltd (EFCL) also worked tirelessly to ensure the schools were in a state of readiness,” Garcia said.

Zena Ramatali, president of the National Parent-Teacher Association (NPTA) said yesterday the association had not received any complaints but added that it was still too early to determine whether everything went smoothly at all schools.