Convinced that their children’s safety is under threat, parents of students attending the Fyzabad Anglican Secondary School engaged in protests on Monday.
Since the start of the new school term classes have not been held because of what parents said were the deplorable conditions, which were “not even fit for animals”.
Chanting, “We not taking that,” the parents gathered outside the school at Fyzabad and called on the Ministry to rebuild their institution.
Built in 1941, the school was once used to house oil workers but was converted into the Fyzabad Intermediate school years later. As the population mushroomed in the Fyzabad district, the school was later converted into a secondary school with a population of 600 plus students.
Speaking to Guardian Media, president of the PTA Evril Jeffrey said on August 21, before school re-opened, after several complaints of poor infrastructure were lodged, the Minister of Education Dr Lovell Francis and a team from the Occupational Safety and Health Authority shut down the main building and relocated pupils to three prefabricated structures to the back of the school.
However, Jeffrey said the accommodation was not ideal.
He explained that the buildings had no running water, no doors on the toilets, unsecured lighting fixtures, no fire extinguisher, unsafe parking and damaged electrical switches and sockets.
“There is one male bathroom on the entire school compound with seven stalls to facilitate 300 male students. Only one stall has a door. There are two stalls in the female washroom for both teachers and office staff. The staff toilets are leaking and the face basin in the male washroom is not properly attached to the wall,” Jeffrey said.
Saying the classes had poor ventilation and debilitating heat, Jeffrey said the ventilation bricks were blocked to accommodate air conditioning but the AC units were not functioning in two out of three Form Two classes. Jeffrey also said there were inadequate lab facilities.
“Our children are not safe there. There is no properly working PA system. In the event of an emergency or fire, what will happen to our children,” Jeffrey added.
Another parent Elizabeth James-Bobb said some students were being housed in the library but this was not conducive as students sitting exams were being inconvenienced.
“What is worse is this school could fall down anytime on top of our children. It is not safe for them and we are not accepting this accommodation,” she added.
James-Bobb said former President Anthony Carmona was a former student adding that Fyzabad Secondary was one of the top schools in the district.
Councillor for Avocat/Fyzabad Doodnath Mayrhoo who represented MP Dr Lackram Bodoe said he was amazed that the school could be shut down just a week before the opening of the new term.
“Why didn’t they make an assessment when the holidays started and then do some works to improve the conditions before the new term,” Mayrhoo questioned.
Dr Bodoe said he planned to raise the matter in Parliament, adding that he was disappointed that no commitment had been given by the Ministry that the school will be rebuilt.