PRESIDENT of the National Primary Schools’ Principals’ Association (Napspa) Lynsley A Doodhai yesterday said it was not “the ideal situation” for children to be accommodated in community centres since about 16 schools remained unopened. This was the situation as the 2013 school term started yesterday. Several of the schools are still undergoing repairs and have health and safety issues.
Both president of the National Parent/Teacher Association (NPTA) Zena Ramatali and first vice-president of Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) Antonia De Freitas agreed resorting to community centres as holding bays was not ideal.
Doodhai said: “I don’t think it is the ideal scenario for a school to functioning under. If nothing can be done and they have to move to a community centre then it has to be up to a certain standard for teachers and students to function there. It should be a last resort.”
Doodhai added: “The school term has commenced in far from ideal conditions. By and large, principals and teachers are not happy with what they have found when they went back out. Looking at the broader picture, there are many schools that reopened and they are functioning under far from ideal conditions. And there is lot of work to be done in many of the schools that opened.”
Ramatali said the result would be valuable loss of teaching and learning time during the longest term.
Ramatali said: “It means thousands of children are at home. We have to speed up the process.”
Meanwhile, she appealed to parents to co operate.
Ramatali said: “If a school has to reconstruct, we ask parents to co operate. It is not the ideal situation but in order for the school to be rebuilt they must relocate. You can’t build the school with students on the compound. We hope the work will speed up so the children will return to school.”
De Freitas said: “To say you are housing a school in a community centre is not the most practical thing. If there is no luxury of a community centre, the students have no school. There is the loss of contact hours. There is no community centre in Tunapuna for Tunapuna Boys’ RC. At Manzanilla North Government, that building was demolished over the holidays. So the school had to relocated to the community centre. But apparently renovation and renovation had to be done to the centre.”
Gopeesingh said 16 out of 900 schools remained unopened. There are 476 primary, 134 secondary and 200 Early Childhood Centres.
He explained, “Some would be completed tomorrow and some by the end of the week. We have 14 new schools we are constructing. And some five have to be housed temporarily in community centres (Kanhai Presbyterian, Manzanilla Government).
Gopeesingh added: “The work in some of these community centres has not been completed. We have over 400 requests and the EFCL can only do what it physically can in relation to the funding that is allocated to the Ministry. More than likely, more than 98 per cent (out of 900 schools) have been opened. But we have to secure a better environment. We opened Couva West and Monkey Town Primary. Four new Early Childhood Education Centres were opened also.”
* Critical and urgently needed repairs to school plants, promised by the Education Facilities Company Limited (EFCL), were either not done or remained incomplete
* Quality of work in some instances left much to be desired; thus exposing personnel to injury. At the Cushe Government Primary School, the main gate was repaired, later collapsed, causing the security guard to narrowly escape injury
*Generally repairs started late, as late as one week.
* Parents are no longer required to certify the works done at their respective schools or to issue a completion letter
TTUTA’s list of closed secondary schools:
Pleasantville-Health and Safety Issues (teachers stayed in staffroom)
Marabella South Secondary-health and safety issues; no air conditioning
Chaguanas North Secondary-falling
ceilings, pigeon infestation, general repairs
Santa Cruz School for the Deaf