In the space of one day, school was re-opened and subsequently closed for pupils of Fort Ordnance Primary in East Canje, Berbice.
Just over one hundred pupils attended classes on September 5th, only to be told upon their return the following day that the school will be closed until further notice. The directive came from the Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine who paid an impromptu visit to the school on Monday last. He deemed the school not conductive to learning.
The school, which serves the Sheet Anchor–Fort Ordnance areas, is presently under construction. Some $17M is being spent to transform the school into a disaster relief centre. Rehabilitation works on the school’s building and surrounding environment began two months ago and the school was expected to be completed in time for the new September term. Unfortunately, the theft of some $77,000 worth in materials among other challenges delayed the completion of work.
The teachers attached to the school had gone to great lengths to make the school habitable for the pupils. One day prior to the reopening of the school, the teachers spent the day tidying work areas, relocating furniture which was in storage to the classrooms and putting up learning aids. However, their efforts were for naught as the school had to be emptied on Tuesday.
During a site inspection of the school on Monday afternoon, the education minister was reportedly appalled to discover that classes had been in session given the congested state of the school’s building and quantity of discarded construction waste in the compound. Not to mention the fact that workers were still busy at the work. After a brief deliberation, he instructed all classes be ceased until the construction work is complete. This decision was greeted with mixed feelings by parents. “I understand why he closed the school, because it dangerous with the workers working and you know kids running around,” one parent commented. While another questioned how the closure would affect the pupils, who will miss a week or more of classes.
Fortunately, this particular fear was assuaged by the teachers of the school who have already agreed to work extra hours after school when it reopens to make up for the lost time.