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No school at Society

No school at Society Parents of children at Society Primary being addressed by Senior Education Officer Joy Adamson (in suit). (Reco Moore)

By ANESTA HENRY | Tue, September 10, 2013 - 8:00 AM

SCORES OF CHILDREN attending Society Primary School  in St John were left without any formal classes yesterday after turning up to find the institution unfit for teaching.

Just after 9 a.m., howls of protest erupted from parents as teachers kept vigil over the children, who had turned up in their brand new uniforms and armed with school books expecting to have a full day  of tuition. Instead, they were  told to sit outside the building  on chairs and benches.

After a three-hour wait, students and their parents were told  to return home around midday  by officials from the Ministry of Education, who turned up to tour the school just after 11 a.m.

Society Primary has a roll  of 12 teachers and 90 students.

The ministry officials included Deputy Chief Education Officer (Schools) Karen Best, Parliamentary Secretary Harry Husbands and Senior Education Officer Joy Adamson.

Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) president Pedro Shepherd and Member of Parliament  for St John, Mara Thompson,  also showed up.

After a short meeting involving the union, the school’s shop steward Chenoe Holder and incoming principal Shirley Thomas,  the ministry closed the school  for the rest of the day in order  to facilitate an industrial cleaning, with the intention that it would reopen today.

Meanwhile, Shepherd, who had said in last week’s SATURDAY SUN that the school looked set  to be working from a new location because it was deemed unfit  for teaching and learning,  said he received a call yesterday morning from the shop steward who said that there were still concerns at the school.

The union chief said he was satisfied that the ministry made  an attempt to correct the issues  at the school – which included moisture as a result of water seepage, fungus growing on walls and other growth – and he was aware it would take some time  for all of them to be corrected.

“As we moved through the upstairs section where the mushrooms were growing, I noticed the mushrooms were removed . . . . If you take a look at the buildings, you would notice that the termite trails are no longer very visible,  so some covering has been done.

“I noticed the fungus and mould still appear to be growing on  the walls, but in the meeting  with the ministry I was told that they [had] treated those areas  with some transparent solution,” Shepherd said.

Parents were upset and voiced their concerns about the condition of the school, which most of them described as a health hazard.

“You know what it is a school shut down for ten weeks and then open not cleaned and my child and other children got to sit down in there? These children are three and four years old,” said one parent.

“The dust in the roof dropping down on children that got asthma, allergies and all sorts of things . . . . Not my child, I carrying home my child,” said another angry parent.

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