More than 200 students attending San Juan Boys and Girls Government Primary School stayed away from classes today as they protested in front the gates, calling on Education Minister Anthony Garcia to restart construction to complete their school.
Joel Scott, president of the school’s PTA said construction work at the school stopped for more than two years and the school is 75 per cent completed.
“No body is telling us why the work has stopped. We went to the Waterfront to deliver a letter to the Minister and we spoke with Dr Lovell Francis and they kept telling us the work on the school will restart soon.” He continued, “It is four years the girls are housed at a building in Tunapuna and five years the boys are there with the girls. The children have to be cramped up in a small building having very little space to move around. We are talking about 300 students housed at a building on the Eastern Main Road obliquely opposite Exodus Pan Theatre.”
Scott said Garcia had given the assurance that the ministry has allocated $10 million to complete the school. However, he said during the July/August vacation nothing was done or started at the school.
He said the parents and students are fed up and frustrated with the situation and also promise to continue with the protest until someone addresses the matter.
“We the parents had to come out in our numbers to clean in front the area of the school because this is where the PTSC buses come to pick and drop off the students on a daily basis. We paint up the area where the children assemble to take the buses. The ministry did not send a CEPEP (Community-Based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme) crew. The holding areas for the toilets are not working, and the flooring in which the toilets stand it was done in plywood and it is rotted, and a health hazard to the children.”
Scott said a minority of students went on the bus today (yesterday) to attend classes, and they are hoping more parents will come out to protest to send a strong message to those who are supposed to oversee the situation.
He said the students and parents also decided to set up a fund to raise money to assist with the completion of their school.
“They (students) are willing to put $1 every day from their spending money toward their school. As a parent I am proud of them but I don’t think my child supposed to do that. I am proud of them and if the government is not doing it and they want to donate $1 toward their school we would work with the children. It had children started five years ago travelling on the bus, finished school and didn’t even get a chance to go into their new school.”
He said students were losing hours of learning because they have to be on spot to get the bus in the morning and leave Tunapuna at 2pm on afternoons to go back to the pick up point. “Tomorrow (today) we are going to protest again even if we have to block the streets. Almost every day we as parents have to struggle to get the children from one spot to the next. We supposed to get four buses every day but it is down to two buses. Every day our children are losing two and three hours of schooling. Our grades are dropping, we had a computer lab at the school and have been shut down for more than two years and may never be able to restart.”
Scott said the students are confined to a small playing area where they are housed, and at present vagrants are taking over their school.