With just months to go until the Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate (CSEC) is held, students of the Point Fortin East Secondary School are concerned about the level of their preparedness after the school was closed yesterday.
Frustrated and worried, students and their parents trekked several kilometres from their school to the Point Fortin Constituency Office, hoping their MP Edmund Dillon could provide some answers.
PTA president Tafara Lewis said they were not given any notice from the school or the Ministry of Education.
Dillon eventually met with the parents, telling them that he visited the school to see what was taking place.
It’s already been three weeks since the students have not had proper classes. Several blocks were cordoned off because of cracks in the infrastructure, faulty electrical fixture and leaky plumbing.
Form 5 student Afrika Lewis said teachers are trying to keep students up to date with the syllabus by sending work via WhatsApp. However, Afrika said not everyone has internet at home. School-Based Assessments are due before Carnival and students don’t have access to the laboratories.
“It is affecting us very much because we have SBAs, we have labs and it is impossible for us to do labs. It is impossible to do a lab at home because we do not have the materials and apparatuses to do it. SBAs are due before Carnival. The teachers are trying to get all the work sent via WhatsApp but not everybody has internet so it is harder on us and it is putting a strain on us to do it,” Lewis said.
As parents and teachers gathered outside the school, construction workers were seen entering.
Since 2018, repairs were ordered by the Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA). But little was done until two weeks ago when Minister in the Ministry of Education Dr Lovell Francis visited.
Lewis said parents only learned about the closure after someone informed a member of the National Parents Teachers Association on Monday.
“This is why we are here this morning: to get information and to get some answers from the principal, school supervisor, the DSS, Minister of Education. We need information because you are not passing down any,” she said.
In a media release, the Ministry of Education said it did not shut down the school, but only suspended classes from yesterday to Friday. It stated that the school was issued three Prohibition Notices and two Improvement Notices by OSHA. The Ministry then contacted the Ministry of Works and Transport to assess the buildings and cracks in the buildings were found to be non-structural and repairable.
“Infrastructural works at the school are near completion and the Ministry is currently working on having the OSHA notices lifted as well as having the electrical repairs completed by February 8 to facilitate reopening by February 10,” the release stated.