MALICK Secondary Form One pupil Kareem Beckles has not seen the inside of a classroom since the new school term commenced on September 3. But while he is saddened by this, the 13-year-old is now angry at a system that seems to be ignoring his cries.
"I don't know why this is happening...I can't just stay home forever. This whole thing just has me really angry," he said.
Beckles should have transitioned from primary school to secondary school by now, but six weeks since the new school term opened, pupils attending Malick Secondary have been locked out.
First, from the school's building in Malick after it was deemed unfit by the teachers and principal, and then, yesterday, from a building they had been relocated to by the Ministry of Education last week.
In fact, last week Monday, the Ministry of Education (MoE) issued a statement saying "that students be temporarily relocated to the building formerly housing Aranjuez North Secondary School".
However, when parents and pupils arrived at the school yesterday, they were greeted by a locked gate and guards telling them they were not informed of any classes being held there.
"This is getting out of hand now, what are we supposed to do? Our children are at home doing nothing and other children are getting an education...why is it they are doing this?" said Julie-Ann Beckles.
On two occasions the school's Parent Teacher Association (PTA) was forced to protest, once in front of the Office of the Prime Minister and then outside the Education Ministry and, according to one parent, they might have to do something "more drastic".
"This Government does not care about people, look at how they have these children. They think we want to protest here, they think we want to stand outside a school and make noise? No, we want our children to have an education," said Karen Beckles.
Another parent said he was informed that the children might be out of school until next year.
"According to the information I got, this Aranjuez School does not have any amenities. It does not have a proper water supply and it also experienced a fire and the teachers and principal from Malick don't want to come here, so now they waiting for the Malick building to be repaired, which means we are looking at a next six to eight weeks," said Selwyn Collins.
In a statement issued to the media yesterday, the Education Ministry acknowledged that "the school's management team and teachers have expressed a reluctance to accept this accommodation", at Aranjuez.
However, the statement added that "discussions are continuing and the MoE is awaiting acceptance so that refurbishment can take place to make this facility ready for their occupation".
Meanwhile, St Augustine Secondary School has been closed since Friday due to mould growing in the laboratory and according to the Ministry's media relations coordinator, Yolanda Morales-Carvalho, they are "monitoring the situation and making arrangements for Cariri to conduct testing".
She stated as well that classes will resume at Palo Seco Secondary School today for pupils in Forms One, Four and Five at the Petrotrin Beach Camp facility.
"A bus service will be made available to transport students from the Palo Seco Secondary School to the Petrotrin Beach Camp facility from 7.30 a.m.," she said.
"Furthermore, preparations are currently ongoing to temporarily accommodate Forms Two and Three pupils at the same compound in a week or two, depending upon completion of installation of pre-engineered classrooms."