Following the temporary relocation of students and teachers of the Brickdam Secondary School, there has been a noticeable drop in the student population as some parents have opted to have their children transferred to other schools.
This is a according to a member of staff at the school, who spoke with Stabroek News recently.
Since the new school year began on Monday, students and teachers of the Brickdam Secondary School have been temporarily relocated to a facility on Freeman Street, East La Penitence, which formerly housed the East La Penitence Primary School.
However, Stabroek News was told that while both teachers and students are pleased with the new accommodation, there has been a decline in the number of students who returned for the new school year.
This, a teacher who spoke on condition of anonymity revealed, has been linked to concerns expressed by some parents over the location of the temporary accommodation as well as uncertainty about the permanent location of the school.
As a result, not only have some parents resorted to having their children transferred, a number of parents of students who wrote the National Grade Six Assessment and were awarded a space at the school opted not to have their children enrolled.
“It was not what was expected; we have about 65% to 70% turn out of students from form two and up. The registration of new students was not very encouraging either. We had just about 40 students for first form, if so much,” the teacher said.
There has been a record number of students who have been transferred, the source said, before adding that there are other parents who have indicated plans to have their children transferred in the very near future.
“Parents are still coming in asking for transfers and teachers are trying to encourage parents to let them stay at the school because we are telling them that this location is not a permanent,” the teacher said.
Moreover, it was the teacher’s opinion that the Ministry did not make enough efforts to assure parents that the school is still in existence and that the situation is only temporary. This, compounded with the uncertainty of the school’s future at the conclusion of the last school year, may have contributed to parents’ decision to have their children transferred.
Commenting on the new building, the teacher explained that both the teachers and the students who returned were pleased with the accommodations, compared to that which they were faced with at the previous building, located on Upper Brickdam.
However, the teacher asked that the ministry fulfill the promise made by the former Chief Education Officer Olato Sam on the provision of police patrols in the area, since some students and parents have raised safety concerns relating to the temporary location of the school.
“We have observed there to be a high percentage of liming in the area, especially on the bridge just across from the school and some students have express-ed concern… they are a bit more careful because they are a little scared of the area… they just need the assurance that they are safe,” the teacher said.
In the meantime, the teacher noted that all that can be done now is to wait and see what the National Budget for 2017 has in store for the school.
Meanwhile, Head teacher of the Brickdam Secondary School Chandrina Welcome-Lee told the Government Information Agency (GINA) that she is grateful for the efforts of the Minister of Education and officials of the ministry.
“I have only had three years of being at Lot 45 Brickdam in the very cramped building, and it has been three really hard years. We are grateful for what the ministry has done for us. We know they haven’t forgotten us because of all they have done so far and they plan to do in the future for us. The children are very grateful and they deserve it because they have been doing very well under those circumstances and I know that they will do far better with the comfort, the space and the (improved) facilities,” she was quoted as saying in a GINA report.
The head teacher added that the students now have access to a play field and can take part in a range of sporting activities.
Welcome-Lee also acknowledged that many persons have raised concerns about the safety of the school’s new location and assured that the students are going to be well taken care of and safe.
“I know many persons are worried about the East La Penitence environment, but I believe we are all Guyanese, these are Guyanese children, this is an area in Guyana and we want what’s best for our children. The people in the community so far, I have noticed, are very nice people. We went around, some teachers and I, and we met some neighbours and they were very welcoming to us and we appreciate that. We hope that our parents will have the confidence in us, in the Ministry of Education, in the Police Force, in the citizenry of this area, to feel comfortable enough to send their children to the school because there are so many things to benefit from coming here,” the head teacher noted.
Comparing the new school and facilities to what existed at the previous location, the head teacher said the environment is much improved and staff and students will be much more comfortable
The decision to have the school temporarily relocated came after the condition of the building which housed the school on Brickdam was called into question by parents and teachers, who decried the facilities as inadequate near the conclusion of the previous school term.
This resulted in a decision by the ministry to temporarily shut down the school and have students and teachers relocated to other schools in the city as a temporary solution.
However, the thought of students being dispersed to different schools did not sit well, thus the decision was rescinded, thereby allowing students and teachers to remain in the building until the completion of the school year as the ministry considered other viable options.