Protesting Reform parents: We damn vex with Government

Photos by Laurel V Williams
Photos by Laurel V Williams

Yet again, parents of students from the Reform Hindu School protested and demanded that the Government finish constructing a new school building.

On Friday morning, parents with placards gathered at the entrance of the school at Railway Road, on the grounds of the Shiva Mandir.

Speaking on behalf of disgruntled parents, PTA president Sheryl Ann Ramdial told reporters that the 68-year-old school is dilapidated and unsuitable for learning.

She recalled that in 2014, under Kamla Persad-Bissessar's administration, construction of a new school started nearby at the Guaracara Tabaquite Road near the Gasparillo Bypass Road.

The new school was expected to be completed and handed over the following year.

In September 2015, there was a change of administration and it was not done. Since then the parents have been clamouring for the new school.

Ramdial said: "The new school is 95 per cent completed.

"Give the children the learning space that they need. This school excels in all national tests. Many children are being turned away because of lack of space. At the new school, there is a capacity of 240."

Highlighting concerns at the old school, she said: "Water is seeping through the walls. The sewer system is faulty. We have outdoor classes due to the lack of space. Teachers take turns outside to teach students. There is no shelter to get to the infant department."

The school has 150 students with only four toilets, she said, for students and staff.

"The school is squatting at the mandir. It is too close to the road. There is too much noise and it distracts the students."

She accused the Government of neglecting the students, saying it spent $100 million to finish the Brian Lara Stadium which is right behind the school. But, she said, it refuses to spend "only $5 million" to finish the school.


If the parents’ call is not addressed, their next step will be to protest at the ministry in Port of Spain.

One parent, Vindra Singh, was almost reduced to tears as she called on the Education Minister, Anthony Garcia, and the Government to finish the school.

Singh said: "I am damn vex like these parents. This school is too crowded, it's cramped.

"Have a heart. Why are you doing this to the children?

"You want us to go on a hunger strike, go to the Parliament again, lie in the road? I do not know what else to do, I am fed up."

The parents marched from the school to the new site , which is overgrown.

Councillor for Reform/Manahambre Chris Hosein, who has been leading the protests, again criticised the minister.

"Every time it rains, classrooms are flooded.

"I listened to the minister’s plan for social distancing when the schools reopen. Where are students going to find that space? The school has a capacity to hold 105 students and there are 150.

"This Government neglected the children," Hosein said.

"I am calling on the minister to do something good for once in his term and resume work. It will cost a lot more money now to complete."

The ECCE centre, a stone’s throw away from the incomplete structure, has also been vandalised and the grounds are also overgrown with vines and bush.



"Protesting Reform parents: We damn vex with Government"

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