A new school term has started with an old issue rearing its head in some schools.
The St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers Union (SVGTU) has once again highlighted the state of disrepair of some schools across the country and intensified its call for the Ministry of Education to improve the conditions in which students and teachers have to operate.
Mould, broken furnishings, mildew, compromised steel railings on upper levels and damaged steps are some of the complaints that have been raised about the Stubbs Government School on Sunday’s episode of Teacher’s Talk hosted by the SVG Teachers Union (SVGTU).
Prior to the September 4 start of the new school year, it was revealed that the school repair program, conducted by the Roads, Buildings and General Services Authority (BRAGSA) had started later than expected but the assurance was given by the Education Minister that schools would be ready to receive students.
However, recent photos taken at the school and posted to the SVGTU Facebook page showed a school in serious need of repairs and upgrades according to the SVGTU Industrial Relations and Research Officer Andrew John.
He said it appears as though “woodlice and woodworm seem to have taken over most of the schools”.
“Whoever is responsible for the upkeep of schools, we just want you to do what is expected. Because the environment in which our children find themselves to learn, it must be conducive. You can’t be sending children out to school and the school hasn’t been painted in 10 years.”
John disclosed that during a school visit in August, union representatives learned that an entire roof of one school plant had to be removed because it was overtaken by woodlice. Furniture and doors had also been affected.
The Stubbs Government School was not the only school with issues highlighted during the discussion. The Brighton Primary School was said to be in need of a paint job and the Sion Hill Government School was reportedly experiencing leaky toilets and bathrooms that needed upgrades.
Union President, Oswald Robinson said it was evident that officials were not keeping up to date with school inspections.
“The law is clear that maintenance and inspection should be done on a term basis. If you have a proper program in place for maintenance and repair, then we would not have this problem. Yes we don’t have a perfect system but when you look at those pictures… you are telling the public that it is only a few minor things and the schools are ready. That Stubbs School was and is still not ready.”
He questioned why the government was “allowing” thousands of dollars of infrastructural damage to affect schools.
He said the burden then falls on teachers and parents to donate their own money to try to enhance the school environment.