THE Education Ministry has come in for severe criticism from the National Parent Teachers Association (NPTA) and parents of children at Diego Martin North Secondary as dilapidated pre-fabricated classrooms have forced pupils to be put on a rotational basis.
"Two months' holiday and they not doing anything (to fix it)," said one concerned mother.
The issue is a block of pre-fabricated buildings, reportedly installed in 2008, that have fallen into disrepair. Some of the problems reported are: non-functioning air conditioning, poor lighting, broken flooring, leaking water and mould inside the building.
Yesterday, a number of parents, NPTA president Zena Ramatali and other NPTA officials attended a meeting with staff at the school on St Lucien Road to discuss the issue.
Ramatali, speaking to the Express via telephone following the meeting, described the conditions at the school as "horrible".
"I wouldn't even want my dog to live there," she commented.
The pre-fab buildings were being used to house form one pupils, who numbered more than 210 this year. Ramatali explained that the original building can only house 15 classes while the school has a total of 26 so the staff decided to adopt a rotation system.
According to parents, the rotation system would see: form five pupils attending all five days; forms four and three attending three days per week; and forms one and two attending two days per week.
"Two days of school, three days of school, (that's) ridiculous," said the mother of a form two pupil.
One father said: "No child should be made to pay for any problem in the school."
The parents' concerns included lack of supervision for their children when they were home from school and disruption of learning, especially for forms four and five pupils preparing for CXC.
One parent reported that the school staff had repeatedly contacted the Ministry on the issue to no avail.
Ramatali described the rotation plan as "unsatisfactory" and "really unfair" to the children and the staff.
"We cannot afford to have children out of school," she stressed.
Ramatali, who noted that the 38-year-old school needed to be completely rebuilt, reported that she wrote Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh about midday yesterday calling for an urgent meeting and for immediate intervention.
The Express was unable to reach Ministry of Education media relations coordinator Yolanda Morales-Carvalho or Minister Gopeesingh via telephone yesterday.