STEER TOWN, St Ann — Principal of Steer Town Academy Sharn Mongal on Thursday stoutly defended the school’s integrity as parents who attended the first Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) meeting for the year loudly proclaimed their support for him.
He is hoping classes will resume on Monday despite an ongoing probe into allegations that there may have been breaches in the May to June 2022 sitting of exams for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC).
“We do know that persons are free to make allegations. But at the end of the day, you must ensure that whatever comes out you are in the clear. The school has good integrity and will continue to have a good record,” said Mongal.
The Overseas Examinations Council (OEC) has launched a probe, ostensibly triggered by the school’s unexpectedly impressive showing in the exams. However, Mongal maintains the results were solely the fruit of dedication and hard work.
“We had better quality in passes. But compared to 2019, which was the best year in passes, it took a dip. So although the quality of passes were [sic] different, we had a smaller number of students who sat exams this year  compared to 2019. And so we would have experienced better quality passes and that is a deliberate attempt that we would have made at teaching and also extra time with the students in preparation,” said the man who has been the institution’s longest-serving principal.
He added, “I believe that the children’s education is paramount and I look forward to their education being continued undisturbed in any way. I love this community and these children too much to sacrifice their education. I believe fully in these children and the community and I know their education is of importance to this country.”
In reaction to reports that Mongal would be placed on leave of absence this month amid a probe by the OEC, parents vociferously voiced their objections, pointing to what they say has been his stellar performance. There were loud chants of “No Monga, no school” as they emerged from the PTA meeting held at the Steer Town New Testament Church on Thursday.
They are adamant that he must remain in his post as they fear that the high standards being maintained at the school will deteriorate in his absence.
“If Mr Mongal lef’, ministry have to find a principal as good as Mongal. When him stick out and stand up like a man, all the boys have to listen. Pickney use to a bring knife come a school and a him come and change all of that. Him is a principal and him cyah lef’ and mi mean it,” said Suzanne Sharpe.
She has three children enrolled at the institution and she spoke of how her family benefited from the principal’s act of kindness when they were most desperately in need.
“Mi remember when mi house burn down and Mr Mongal was there for me and my kids all the way. Him even allow them to wear clothes [instead of the uniform] to school. Him is a good man and a good principal. No school cannot keep if Mr Mongal is not the principal!” she insisted.
Others were equally effusive in their praise.
“I appreciate Mr Mongal. My son come to this school and they use to call it IGL [because of the blue uniform] and Mr Mongal change it over so people can call it Steer Town Academy and I appreciate him being here. My child is also doing well in his books,” said Rohan Thompson.
Hyacinth Green, who had just collected her daughter’s report card, was all smiles when she saw the grades. She believes the principal had a hand in her daughter’s success.
“Mr Mongal a gwaan, mi nah tell you no lie because mi daughter improve a lot. Right now mi feel good in a myself. My daughter also got top maths student in her class since Mr Mongal come here and that never use to happen before,” she said.
Another parent who did not wish to be identified by name told the Observer that she was shocked to learn of the allegations being made.
“Me don’t find no fault with Mr Mongal and me surprise to hear what them saying. Him is no bad person and always a give good encouragement so I have a lot of respect for him. From the first day I saw this man I could tell he was a man of principle but God and time will do everything,” she said.