Some children from Coomacka and along the highway have to walk ten miles to and from school in Linden

Dear Editor,

The article by your reporter Cathy Richards, ‘Coomacka, nearby communities want school transportation help’ (SN, August 29) is surely another matter that needs urgent attention. It has also brought back to the fore two letters I had written some time back on the dire situation of children living along the Linden Highway who are in the exactly same plight. I have made the point before that the transportation woes facing these children should have been of great concern to the Linden Education Department a long time ago, but I haven’t seen any effort to correct the situation.

Your reporter informed us that some have to walk about ten miles from Coomacka to Linden and back, because they cannot afford to pay for transportation since many are the children of single parents, or have parents who have been retrenched from the bauxite industry, are doing ‘odds and ends’ work, or who have gone to the interior to seek jobs. But this is no different from those living on the Linden Highway who have to attend schools in Linden and Georgetown; they suffer the same fate, the same disenchantment – long hours on the road in sun or rain, reaching school at all hours.

There are children who walk from the Linden Highway to Linden – some eight to ten miles also! No doubt the fatigue takes a toll on the children’s performance, since they frequently reach late, get back home late and complain of being tired. They can’t keep up with the work at school and some will finally drop out. Your reporter further mentioned the problem of assignments – accessing the library and computers after school, making it more difficult to get back home. And as has been discovered, many of these children attend school without lunch or even snack/lunch money! So there is the lack of necessary nutrition.

But why aren’t the relevant authorities making any serious efforts to redress this transportation issue affecting not only the schoolchildren, but residents as a whole who are living along the highway, in Coomacka, Maria Elizabeth, Three Friends and other far-out areas, so that it eases the burden/stress. I noted that the reporter spoke of the bus that was given to the Coomacka residents in 2006 and which was badly managed by the community group which was responsible for it, and which has been non-functional for a very very long period with the engine being stolen.

This is rather unfortunate. Nothing is wrong with residents taking control of their own affairs, but they need to be responsible also; they must be made accountable and officials and other relevant authorities must constantly make checks to ensure that things are functioning in a proper manner and residents too must be watchdogs for their own sakes.

As school reopens once again there is no sign that this grim transportation situation will improve, and this is troubling. With respect to all that was mentioned above I want to take the liberty on behalf of the unfortunate children from those remote areas to use this opportunity to make a special appeal to the Linden Fund, an overseas  body, which I was not so long ago informed is contemplating the adoption of two schools in the Linden community, to also take into consideration the stark realities facing these schoolchildren living in remote areas.

Yours faithfully,
Frank Fyffe

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