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Claxton Bay students protest for new school

Thursday, September 13, 2012
Students of the Claxton Bay Anglican Primary School at Cedar Hill Road changes the lyrics of a popular nursery rhyme, to draw Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh’s attention to their plight. PHOTO: TONY HOWELL

Students of the Claxton Bay Anglican Primary school traded their school bags for placards, yesterday, following the collapse of a part of the building’s roof. Heavy rains on Tuesday evening caused part of the 77-year-old building’s roof to cave in. No one was in the building at the time of the incident. The school remained tightly shut, yesterday, as students joined their frustrated parents to stage a noisy protest and demand a new building.


“No more patching, we want a new school,” students chanted, as they blocked the main entrance to the Cedar Hill Trace, Claxton Bay school. Protest leader, Parent Teachers Association president, Alicia Solomon, said the building was  condemned by the Public Health Department a long time ago. She said a decision was taken at an emergency PTA on Tuesday to shut down the school until the Ministry of Education can guarantee the safety of the 152 students and staff.


Acting President of the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association, Daveanand Sinanan, also confirmed teachers took a decision to remove themselves from the school. Solomon said copy and text books were constantly replaced by containers, placed on the desks, to collect  water from the leaking roof, whenever it rained. She said this was among a myriad of issues affecting the school, which included electrical problems, non-functioning toilets and gaping holes in the floor boards.


Over the years, she said, the government took a piece-meal approach to repair, but they have had enough. “We are not subjecting our teachers and our children to those kinds of conditions in that dilapidated school,” Solomon said. We want a new school.” Irate parent, Ruby Sandy-Mills said in the interest of their children’s continuing education, they are willing to engage in a shift arrangement with another school, while the Anglican school is repaired or rebuilt.


When contacted, officials at the Anglican Diocesan Office said they were not aware of the protest. The official said the person authorised to speak on the issue, Bishop Claude Berkley, who is also chairman of the  Anglican Board of Education was not in office at the time. Board secretary, Merle Brathwaite was also unavailable for comment.


In the meantime, several schools in the south land remain closed, including Palo Seco Government Secondary. Sinanan said officials of Cariri have collected samples of the fungus growing on the compound at Palo Seco to determine the strain. Those tests, he said, would take three weeks to complete. “Only when the results are ready then they will be able to make an informed decision on how to deal with problem. The school will be closed until then,” he said.


Sinanan said the Education Ministry has proposed a shift system for Santa Flora Govern Primary School students at the Palo Seco Government Primary School. However, he said, parents at Palo Seco Government are objecting to the shift system.


Santa Flora Government Primary School was shut down following incomplete repairs. Sinanan said the St Patrick County Medical Officer had sent a letter to the ministry, dated June 20, 2012, recommending the school be closed until the repairs are completed.


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