Education Minister Anthony Garcia has told parents of students of the Claxton Bay Junior Anglican School that their children will not be “short-changed or disadvantaged” because of missing classes after the school was condemned by the Occupational Health and Safety Agency last September.
He spoke to parents and other stakeholders on Wednesday morning at the Claxton Bay Anglican Church shortly after the ministry got transport to take students to the old Marabella Junior Secondary School. On Monday, the parents protested, blocking the road, after the ministry failed to have the students taken to Marabella. Flanked by senior ministry staff, Garcia said he had spent hours on the phone negotiating with various stakeholders so that students could go to school on Wednesday.
“I am very happy to be here this morning so we can give to our parents some semblance of hope for their children.“It was not the fault of the Ministry of Education, since last year when the problem with this school came to our attention, we started working as soon as possible to have our children housed at alternative accommodations to ensure their education is not interrupted.’
He said initially he had been told arrangements had been made for the school to reopen at Marabella next Monday.“I said that was not acceptable, so I was in a telephone conversation with stakeholders – and I want to thank the drivers, as today most of the students have been transported to the Marabella South Secondary School.”
He also said drivers would be paid their stipends on time. In response to a question from a parent about her son not being able to do the work due to the missed classroom time, he said, “Whatever is missed by the students will be made up by the teachers.”
He added that school supervisors and curriculum development officers would visit the school regularly. Garcia was disappointed that a representative of the Anglican Education Board did not attend Wednesday’s meeting.
“This school is owned by the Anglican Board, and the Ministry of Education could do nothing without the concurrence of the Anglican Board.“If you have ownership of the school then you must have some form of responsibility.
So you can’t just sit back and say, ‘We own the school,’ and wash your hands of all responsibility.”Garcia also updated parents on whether a prefabricated structure would be put up on the grounds of the old school.
“We are having some difficulties in terms of the erection of the prefab school, and that difficulty rests mainly in terms of finance.
“All of us know that the position of the country is such we don’t have much finance. But we have been having discussions with the Anglican Board.”