CHEQUANA WHEELER AND CLINT CHAN TACK
Classes at the Point Fortin East Secondary School were called off on Monday as members of the school's Parents Teachers Association (PTA) protested again outside the school's compound. They complained that several infrastructural repairs to be done at the school were not done.
PTA president Tafara Lewis said assurances given last Tuesday by Minister in the Education Ministry, Dr Lovell Francis, about repairs to the school being done, did not materialise. Lewis said a team from the ministry did not meet with the PTA last Friday. She also claimed no work was done at the school last weekend. Lewis added that Blocks C and D at the school were closed by the Occupational Health and Safety Agency (OSHA). She said this was where the male and female students' washrooms are located.
Lewis said the PTA is concerned about the effect this situation will have on students, especially those doing school-based assessments. While the protest was taking place, school principal Ainsley Gopaul went out and asked students to go inside for the daily roll call. He did not take questions from the media.
Around 10.20 am, classes were called off for the day. TTUTA president Antonia De Freitas said teachers will not be at the school on Tuesday and Wednesday. She said they are awaiting clearance from the ministry regarding electrical and engineering work.
De Freitas also said OSHA issued three prohibition notices regarding different parts of the school. She said this meant no one should be entering the compound until the problems identified by OSHA are rectified. De Freitas said TTUTA is continuing to liase with the teachers and the PTA about how to help the students.
Francis said, "We promised that work would start over the weekend and a contractor was mobilised to commence work." But he added the contractor was "stopped from doing so for reasons we are investigating."
Francis said, "So we kept our promise to the parents." Ministry officials said repair works at the school have been taking place.
Between last July and August, these works included refurbishment of staff washrooms; replacement of guttering from Block C to Q; replacement of the ceiling in Blocks P and M and the library; installation of additional electrical outlets in the library and staff room. Last December, there were emergency works that included cleaning and desludging of the sewer; replacement of sewer pumps; repair to the control panel; repair/replacement of gas lines and gas taps. The cost of these works was just over $700,000.
Refurbishment of the closed student washrooms; replacement of louvres in Block J and overhaul of the auditorium stage are amongst the works scheduled to be done at the school. Education Minister Anthony Garcia will host a news conference on Tuesday at the VIP Lounge, Queen’s Park, Savannah, Port of Spain to discuss "matters related to education."