Parents of displaced students of Couva West Secondary School have been bombarding the office of their MP, Rudranath Indarsingh, seeking transfers for their children, who have not had a day of school since October 16.
Indarsingh said he has raised the issue with Education Minister Anthony Garcia inside and outside Parliament. He said the last response the minister gave, in Parliament in December, was that the school would be open on January 6 for the new term.
On that occasion, Garcia, who had previously given a November 20 deadline, explained that after this deadline, it was discovered that the waterproofing membranes on blocks B1 and B2 were leaking. He said then the intricate and extensive nature of the work, coupled with bad weather, had caused even further delays, but repairs were almost 90 per cent complete.
Indarsingh told the Newsday on Friday, “Sadly, in spite of this reassurance, the school remains closed.
“Right now I have requests from about 40 parents seeking transfers because they are very concerned about their continuing absence from school.”
He said the closure is affecting students who are scheduled to sit the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) in terms of completing and marking their school-based assessments (SBAs) as well as their preparedness for the examination in the next three to four months.
“They are at a significant disadvantage to their peers at other secondary schools in the country. Couva West Secondary is not one of the top performing schools, and the students need as much attention as they can get.”
On January 6, when the school failed to open, Indarsingh wrote to Garcia seeking his urgent attention and a status report on the school, which has been plagued with plumbing problems, a leaking roof, non-functioning and inadequate toilets, mouldy walls and ceilings, which caused the indefinite closure in October.
He said on Friday, “I have received no response from the minister. “I am trying to co-ordinate a meeting with about 40 concerned parents who are asking me to get their children transferred.” A spokesman at the ministry repeated the last set of statistics given by Garcia and said a stakeholders meeting was scheduled for last Wednesday.
Indarsingh said he is unaware of any such meeting being held. “We can’t continue to have children at home for such a long period.
“Garcia should be charged for crimes against the children of Couva West. It is unconscionable. We are supposed to be a signatory to the wellbeing of children. The Prime Minister boasts about being concerned about the welfare of children – and a school with over 780 students has been closed since last term. “This is sad. I am calling for an end to this prolonged suffering of our children,” Indarsingh said.