School repairs, disrepair and crisis situations
Why do we sometimes wait until things reach crisis proportions before action is taken?
As far as we are aware, there exists a reporting procedure which principals of schools are supposed to use to report defects at their school plant, many of which may pose a safety hazard to teachers and students. But we live in the real world, so we also know that many times, reports are made but no action is taken by those charged with the responsibility to effect repairs, for a wide array of reasons.
Last Thursday, the Kingstown Anglican School was closed after it was discovered that the roof was leaking, water was falling on light fixtures and electrical fittings, there were electric surges, broken electrical outlets and unsightly toilets. Because of the unsafe conditions at the school, the teachers’ union also advised its members to withdraw their services with immediate effect.
These defects did not develop overnight and if it is that they were not reported to the ministries of education and works by the headteacher of the school, this could be considered dereliction of duty. The same holds for officials in the relevant ministries if the defects were reported and no action taken.
After the closure of the Kingstown Anglican School, it only took four days to install seven new toilets, replace damaged electrical outlets and repair the leaking roof. School will reopen today, one day later than planned, as rain over the weekend slowed down the repair of the roof.
This means that within the government system there existed the capacity to do the repairs, it is just that the repairs were not a priority to someone or some people in authority prior to last week.
And there are other schools in a similar state of disrepair. At the St Vincent Grammar School there are leaky roofs, water running out of electrical fixtures and fittings, poor drainage, bat droppings, leaking roofs, pools of water settled in classrooms and corridors, water seeping through the roof and floors in the information technology laboratory. Reportedly, similar problems exist at other schools including the C. W. Prescod primary school.
While most of the damage at our schools is as a result of normal wear and tear, vandalism by the very students of the respective schools is not an insignificant factor in the whole scheme of things.
That notwithstanding, the authorities have a responsibility to ensure that our students are educated in a safe and sanitary environment which is conducive to learning and it should not take a walkout by the teachers union or heavy rain to force the authorities to effect repairs.
We urge the ministries of works and education to address similar problems at all our schools across the nation and for the ministry of education to introduce a programme to deal with the unacceptably high level of vandalism in our schools.