Education Minister Shaik Baksh today expressed deep concern about what he said was the negligence of
the Region Four administration in carrying out critical renovation works at the Golden Grove Secondary School which has been at the centre of an uproar over its poor condition.
Parents protested the state of the school at the opening of the new term and have been given a series of promises. However, the work is still to be completed.
Baksh in a statement said that representatives of the school’s Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) two weeks ago met with regional officials to discuss the conditions of the school and were given the assurance that their concerns will be addressed.
“However, on to now, rehabilitation works have not yet commenced. A few frustrated members of the PTA on Tuesday met with Minister Baksh to chart the way forward. The minister promised to discuss the matter with Local Government and Regional
Development Minister Norman Whittaker and do all within his powers to remedy the problem.”
The statement said that the Education Ministry team today will visit the school to assess the situation and facilitate a resolution to the problem. The team will look at the furniture, the condition of the building and will call a meeting with parents on the way forward.
“The ministry will continue to provide support to the regions in their planned repairs and maintenance programmes while recognising that they have direct responsibility for these functions in keeping with the decentralised system of education”, the statement said.It reflected an ongoing tension between the regions and the ministry over who should really be responsible for the repairs.
Baksh’s statement said that the education sector is operating under a decentralised system which has been in existence since the 1980s. He added that the repairs and maintenance of schools and the provision of furniture is the direct responsibility
of the Regional Democratic Councils, their Regional Education Committees and the Regional Education Departments.
Baksh added “Least it be misunderstood, the Education Ministry is deeply concerned at the situation at Golden Grove Secondary and in some other schools and has been working on a continuous basis with officials of these schools, the regions and the Local Government and Regional Development Ministry to correct these shortcomings The ministry has been forced to intervene in some of these
situations as the regions’ handling of these works run counter to the ministry’s trust of promoting safe, productive and conducive learning environments.”
On September 12 Parent Teachers Association (PTA) President David Gentle had told Stabroek News that they hoped the protest will result in much needed relief at the dilapidated East Coast Demerara school.
In a telephone interview, Gentle expressed disbelief and disappointment that the regional council officials made no effort to begin repairing the school during the weekend.
“They promised that they would fix the school over the weekend and up to today nothing. We are currently preparing a letter to take to Office of the President asking the President to get involved because our children are hurting” he said.
“This isn’t right if it was at any other school repairs would have been done long time; seems like Golden Grove is forgotten.”
On September 5, the first day of the new school term, parents and students mounted a protest against the shoddy conditions of the school. They cited lack of furniture, poor infrastructure and lack of potable water supply as the reason for their protest.