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Broken and ‘forgotten’


SHERIA BRATHWAITE

Broken and ‘forgotten’

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Parents of pupils at one of St Philip’s oldest primary schools protested the conditions at the school, saying they were fed up with empty promises.

Yesterday about 30 parents gathered at the school gate of St Mark’s Primary School, which boasts among its alumni Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley. At the Blades Hill, St Philip school the protesters chanted and held placards, some of which read Empty Promises and New School Year Same Old School.

President of the school’s PTA, Margo Forde, told the Saturday Sun that the parents of the organisation could no longer tolerate their children attending the facility.

“We are protesting today because serious work needs to be done at the school. Work by the PTA alone cannot do because the plant belongs to the Ministry of Education.”

Forde said the school was in a deplorable condition and seemed forgotten since little or no attention was paid to the institution.

“There are cracked and broken tiles on the floor in the hall, which is cramped as it holds three classes. There are cracks [where] Class 1, 2 and 3 [are housed]. There are termite-infested chalkboards, the fence is broken down, there are no proper bathroom facilities, no sick bay, no staffroom, no pasture for the students to play on and when the ministry did repairs to the roof the workmen left a lot of loose wires.

“Past principals wrote letters to the ministry and nothing has happened and we have had enough.”

Barbados Labour Party (BLP) candidate for the St Philip North constituency, a past student and member of the school’s PTA, Dr Sonia Browne, said the school had been neglected for several years even though it had produced respectable people with careers, including award-winning calypsonian Stedson Red Plastic Bag Wiltshire.

“This school is known in St Philip and deserves more than a little blot of paint every now and then. This school has supported the entire community from parts of St John, College Savannah, Parish Land and Bayfield.

“Someone’s grandmother was walking on the stepping stones on the compound and fell and hurt herself, and incidents like that have happened on several occasions.”

However, Minister of Education Ronald Jones dismissed the protest action as political.

Jones described the action as a publicity stunt of the BLP candidate for the area.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Olga Miller Nursery School ten-year anniversary service at the Farm Road, St Philip school, he said: “Based on what I saw on Facebook last week, this is something instigated by Dr Browne and her cohorts. So let her create relevance. What I would like to ask her is how much contributions she ever made to the school. Did she ever donate ten books for graduation? Have she ever said she would give them a small play park? Put your money where your mouth is . . .”

The minister added that a new school has to be built for the students of St Mark’s Primary, since repairs will not end the issues because it is an old limestone structure and buildings out of that material deteriorate after some time.

He said two or three years ago the ministry spent around $400 000 on a school repair programme and after assessing the primary schools, schools such as St Martin’s Mangrove Primary, Belmont Primary, Boscobel Primary and St Elizabeth Primary School were in a more serious state of disrepair than St Mark’s Primary and took priority.

However, Forde denied the accusation of the protest being political. She said St Mark’s Primary was not only Browne’s alma mater but her daughter attended the school and Browne is a member of the school’s PTA. (SB)

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