EDUCATION Minister Anthony Garcia and Couva North MP Ramona Ramdial traded words in Parliament on Friday on an itching problem at the Montrose Vedic School.
Garcia was responding to an urgent question from Ramdial on when the “flea infestation” at the school will be addressed after a protest by parents, students and teachers on Friday morning.
Garcia said there had been several interventions since the start of the school term to determine the cause of the itching suffered by students and teachers. He reported a collaborative effort by the Insect Vector Control Division, Chaguanas Borough Council and the ministry were utilised to spray, sanitise and fumigate the entire compound, and spraying and cleansing had been done on nearby drains on a regular basis.
“However, the cause of the itching has not yet been identified positively.”
Garcia said the ministry has been looking at buildings in Chaguanas to house the students if necessary, and two new sites have been identified and are being considered for their possible temporary relocation. He reported site visits will be done this week.
Ramdial asked: “Minister, are you aware that this flea infestation is a four-year-old problem which you and your ministry are yet to resolve, and therefore, with you saying you are looking at sites, how long again are the students and parents and teachers to wait after four years for this relocation?”
Garcia responded: “I am aware that this problem extends beyond four years. It was there long before I came into office, and nothing was done by the previous administration to solve this problem. So don’t come today and blame us. I am fully aware of that.”
Ramdial cut in: “We had a plan.”
Garcia added, “For more than three years, for more than five years, during the previous administration nothing was done.”
Ramdial continued to interrupt and Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George told her she was entitled to further supplemental questions if she wished.
Garcia also reported insect traps were left at the school overnight, but only mosquitoes were caught, and when traps were left during class time, nothing was found.
Chaguanas East MP Fazal Karim asked if there were measures in place to ensure SEA students were not disadvantaged.
Garcia replied the school had not been closed and the Standard Five students had been attending regularly.