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Problems keep some schools shut

By Camille Bethel camille.bethel@trinidadexpress.com

The new school term reopened yesterday without a hitch.

Well almost.

Teachers turned up at their respective schools across the country ready to get down to business, having had their long-standing salary negotiations settled in December and most of them did get to carry out their duties.

However, several of them were forced to leave school early or stayed home because of ongoing problems with the facilities at their schools.

Both the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) and the Ministry of Education yesterday indicated that several schools along the East West Corridor either remained closed or teachers took the decision to leave early because the infrastructure at the school was not up to standard.

TTUTA's general secretary Peter Wilson and second vice president Orville Carrington named the Malick Secondary, San Juan Secondary, Sangre Grande SDA Primary and the Ecclesville Presbyterian Primary Schools as having no classes yesterday while the Education Ministry's media relations co-ordinator Yolanda Morales-Carvalho added the Santa Maria RC and the La Pastora Government Primary Schools to the list of schools that had no classes yesterday.

Carrington told the Express that the teachers at the San Juan South Secondary had a problem with leaking toilets.

"Just one of the five teachers toilets is functional and there are 40 teachers at the school. The teachers met to decide what their next step would be but we will get feedback on that tomorrow. The Malick Secondary situation has not been completely dealt with in that they are still awaiting the OSH report and the report from the electrical inspectorate and things like the furniture in the school is still disorganised and there is a gas scent in the home economics area so the teachers would have taken a decision to remove themselves and they will return tomorrow to school," Carrington said.

The form two and three pupils at that school had no classes at all last term.

Wilson told the Express that there were also some problems at the Ecclesville Presbyterian School.

"It was not opened because of problems with bat droppings and therefore the school has to be sanitised and so on also Sangre Grande SDA primary had electrical problems and we await a report tomorrow," he said.

He added that although the Toco Secondary School had classes it was under cramped conditions since the work to provide temporary classrooms at the school which was supposed to be carried out during the vacation had not been done

"They were supposed to have put up temporary accommodation with containers and so on because some of the buildings are past their design life and so had to be evacuated. They have been running school out of just two blocks that have been declared safe.

"It is anticipated that it may take another three weeks for the works to be completed so that the school can be properly accommodated. Some work was done on the actual solar system.

"Classes resumed under very crammed conditions and so they will continue in the time being but of course we need to ensure that temporary accommodation is really delivered as soon as possible," he said.

Morales-Carvalho said, "Our reports are that all schools have been opened. We have the La Pastora Government Primary School where they are still doing some works because it s the sewer system that we have been working with and because of the weather the work has been kept back because the work needs to be done when it is dry so that school did not open today.

The case of the Ecclesville Primary School she said the issue with the bat droppings was only submitted to the Ministry last week but that the Education Facilities Company Ltd was in the process of getting the sanitation work at the school done as soon as possible.

"A challenge that we faced is that principals submitted the reports for repairs to be done too late at some of the schools. We had given them a deadline in order for us to have everything in place and organised but at the beginning of last week we got some calls from some principals who now decided to make their reports."

She said the Santa Maria Primary School remained closed yesterday because of a WASA problem.

"There was no water and we tried to get water to the school by trucks but the roads are in bad condition and the trucks were unable to get there. But we are working with WASA to alleviate the problem and I believe a water supply was to be delivered to the school this afternoon."

She said the decision to not have classes at the Malick Secondary School was a unilateral one taken by the school's principal who did not consult with the school supervisor.

Morales-Carvalho had no updates on the situation at the Toco School and asked that she be given the opportunity to respond to that issue today. She added that all of the schools in the repair programme the Ministry succeeded in completing all the repairs.

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