Parents of students at Kingstown Government upset at condition of school
A group of upset parents descended on the Kingstown Government School (KGS) yesterday morning to take their children home as a result of what they say are the deplorable conditions there.
Several parents contacted SEARCHLIGHT with tales of dirty bathrooms; spoiled and rotting food; and no electricity in the tuck shop; garbage; and ongoing construction at the primary school located at Stoney Ground.
“Look at the condition of here. School should not have been open and this is a project that has been on stream for how many years,” one parent said referring to construction taking place on a building which housed Grades 4,5 and 6. “The current (electricity) for the kitchen area was turned off and everything they had inside the fridge spoil and now they cannot do lunch in there for the children.”
One mother expressed her anger about meeting rubbish in the classrooms on what should be the first day of school.
Another parent said that while they understand that the school is in the process of being fixed, other schools in the country had work done quickly to facilitate the re-opening for the new school term.
“Nobody ain’t say they don’t understand…we understand that…but the point about it is why you work done on Prep so fast? What happen to Stoney Ground? Why they didn’t work fast on Stoney Ground?,” she said.
Several others questioned whether the Ministry [of Education] thought that those at the school were “the worst”.
The KGS is undergoing major renovation under the Regional Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project, which is funded by the World Bank.
Sonia Soleyn, the acting deputy headteacher declined to comment on the current state of the school.
But she told SEARCHLIGHT that the construction taking place under the World Bank funded project is meant to upgrade the school to serve as a hurricane shelter.
Soleyn said that the building has already been rewired and contractors are in the process of putting in toilets and changing window louvres and doors.
Parents say that the students were meant to be relocated to several buildings in the past to facilitate the project. But nothing has been done since.
Cristal John, the president of the school’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA) said that she had conversations with the headteacher and Senator Deborah Charles, the parliamentary secretary in the education ministry, to relocate students to the Discovery Works building.
John said that they were later told that the government had plans to use that building as a call centre.
“This morning, you know what they tell us? The rent is too high. So wait. Saving rent money is more beneficial to them than our children’s health? You have a construction site and school going on. Our children’s health should be in crisis because they want to save some money?,” the PTA president said.
She said that the ministry needed to do better when it comes the the health of children attending the school.
The upset parent said that she had posed questions in a meeting about the health situation as it relates to children with asthma, to which a ministry official said that she should transfer her child.
“I could transfer my child. But at the end of the day, somebody have to make a stand for the other children them because it have some parents who not going to stand up here like we standing up here today. We have to stand up for the rights of the other children,” John said.
When SEARCHLIGHT visited the school, Myccle Burke, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education and Senator Deborah Charles were on site to assess the situation.
Burke said that the ministry was just looking into the matter and will take the necessary steps to address the situation.
It was later decided that the school would close at midday yesterday. There was no indication when school would reopen.