The Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training is being is knocked for “the pedestrian pace in addressing much needed school repairs”.
President of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) Rudy Lovell said in an interview with The Nation, there were “a lot of schools” that really needed attention as most in the country were older than “40-odd years”.
“There are a number of issues, and I don’t necessarily want to bash the Ministry all the time, because I know the problem may be a financial problem, but I’m saying that if we are preparing the future generation to take over from us, we have to ensure that they are capable and well enough to do so,” he said.
“We cannot allow them to occupy buildings that would make them sick and then expect when they are charged with the responsibility of doing what they’re supposed to do, the illness that follows them into their adult lives will not affect them.
“Some of these buildings are, I don’t want to say are uninhabitable, but they should be knocked down. St John’s Primary is over 100 years old and made of limestone. When it rains it retains moisture and is an incubator of fungus and mould and causes a problem for those persons with respiratory problems,” he said, adding, another primary school had “a 360-degree toilet bowl” that required fixing.
At the President’s Reception Friday night at their St Michael headquarters where 12 former educators were honoured for their contribution and service, Lovell mentioned other concerns.
They include complaints about the strong odour still plaguing Lawrence T, Gay Primary, structural issues such as cracks in floors and ceilings and water seepage teachers at The Ellerslie School are concerned about. There were other “structural issues” at some schools such as “inadequate lighting, poor ventilation, insufficient and unsuitable bathroom facilities, slippery corridors”.
Lovell suggested the Ministry of Education establishes “a comprehensive maintenance programme”.
“Additionally, adequately funding the Educational Technical Management Unit, and giving it autonomy to address school repairs by making it a separate and distinct unit from the Ministry of Education will surely assist with the reduction of issues regarding school maintenance,” he said.
Apart from the “unfavourable conditions” at schools, he spoke about the situation involving their members Pedro Shepherd and Alwyn Babb whom he said “were accused of breaking the law and were suspended for breaching General Orders 3.18 (1) for contesting the general elections in January this year.
Lovell said the BUT “staunchly” supported them and “would like the Ministry of the Public Service to act with haste to bring this atrocity to a conclusion by exonerating these two gentlemen”.
The President’s Reception is one of the activities for Teachers’ Week, observed in October as part of Education Month. The 26th annual John Cumberbatch Memorial Lecture and a professional development workshop were also held. (GBM)