Classes and examinations were taking place at the Point Fortin East Secondary School but following Monday’s fire, students walked out of classrooms to join their parents in protest over the dilapidated condition of the school.
Yesterday’s action followed a minor fire in the school’s administrative section, heightening parent’s fear for the safety of their children at the 60-year-old school.
While the protest was peaceful and not disruptive, parents said that it was just a warm-up for further action to come.
PTA secretary Robertha St Hillaire said there was an electrical malfunction to a light fixture, but it did not cause major damage because the ceiling tile was fire resistant. However, St Hillaire said had this taken place in a classroom, it could have been dangerous as those tiles were not fire-resistant.
“This is just a little warm-up. It is because we want the powers that be to know that we are serious. We want them to understand that we would really like to have some attention placed on our school. It seems to be that Point Fortin East Secondary is forgotten. We have not heard anything from our MP, from the Ministry of Education. We just want to understand and would like to have a definitive timeline for when things are going to be fixed in the school,” St Hillaire said.
Following the incident, the PTA met with the school’s principal and personnel from the Ministry of Education and was given a tentative timeline for the upgrades to the school. However, PTA member Daniel George said parents were not satisfied with the amount of time they would have to wait while the school continues to fall apart. George said that unless the works are fast-tracked, parents will take further action.
“Minister, we need you to come here and stop telling the media foolishness about the amount of work that you said is being done because of last week in a press release that media publish that certain work was done which was not done. And out of the recommendations from OSHA, only three per cent of work has been done and we have the OSHA report that clearly states that” George said.
One parent also suggested that the Ministry construct a new school. She said that for too long, Point Fortin has been the backbone of the nation, yet its people have been neglected.
Before the end of the last school term, the PTA said it was informed that repairs would take place during the vacation period. These included the repair of the ceiling along the corridor and the classrooms on Block D, the repair and re-commissioning of the gas system in the science labs and demolition of Block E which had to be done since 2007. However, when the school reopened, they found that nothing was done.
The PTA said students are unable to complete their SBA’s because they cannot do their labs. Meanwhile, a condemned building poses a serious safety and health hazard as it can be accessed by the students and is infested with rodents. The school continues to have the age-old problem of the Block D corridor being flooded by heavy rain. The PTA reported that a teacher fell on the stairs of the two-storey building recently because the slip guards were worn.
The PTA said the hazards formed part of an OSHA report in 2019 but little was done to remedy the situation.
Minister in the Ministry of Education Dr Lovell Francis told Guardian Media that he was on his way to visit the school. Francis said the Ministry did several repairs and emergency work on the school last year. He said, “a handful” of repairs remain and will be done expeditiously.