An open letter to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education
By A Very Concerned Parent
Sir, it is my understanding that the Calliaqua Anglican School is heavily populated with inadequate facilities to house over 320 students. I have learnt that in Grades K, 1, 2 and Grade 5, the classrooms, which were meant to house 25 students each now have an average 45 students in a 24-foot by 24-foot room, with a promise of more students who will transfer in before Monday, Sept. 7, when school reopens.
I have some questions. Have you or your school inspectors gone to the Calliaqua Anglican School to see the conditions in which students are supposed to learn and produce excellent results? And if so, what were the solutions applied to these problems?
Are you aware that the Grade 2 classroom is sandwiched between two buildings and has very little ventilation and no room for teachers to sit? Are you aware that COVID-19 poses a real threat to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, including our children and that some level of social distancing must be maintained?
Are you aware that there is a serious outbreak of dengue and that rooms, especially classrooms, should be well ventilated, with no place for mosquitoes to hide? Isn’t proper ventilation a requirement in your list of COVID-19 protocols for schools? Are you aware that extremely hot and dusty conditions affect students’ and teachers’ performance and, more so, their health?
I have learnt that a wonderful suggestion was made to readjust the partitions in a few classes to gain more space, so that students can be comfortable and teachers will have a place to sit. Has that suggestion been taken up seriously?
The students have been out for five months? The temporary structures are wooden. With all the distribution we have seen, we cannot say that the country did not have building material. Therefore, why weren’t two more classrooms built? It was boasted that the structures at the temporary site were built in 18 days. Therefore, constructing two classrooms should be a breeze. The students at the Calliaqua Anglican School and, by extension, their parents as major stakeholders in the education system, deserve much better. The hard working teachers deserve better conditions in order to bring Calliaqua Anglican School back to its former glory.
Why would more students be sent to a school that is already overcrowded is beyond me. My children go to this school and I am greatly disappointed that the ministry knows about the conditions at this school and have yet to come up with proper solutions but is placing more students there to worsen the situation. It cannot be business as usual!
Clearly, the school is bursting at its seams. The town hall can be used to host the Grade 6 students who need close attention. They have missed out a lot because of COVID-19 and the Grade 6 teachers need the proper overall conditions to help these students. Use BRAGSA, shift partitions where necessary and find a way to build two more classrooms. It is not hard to do! We must be critical thinkers and solution seekers. Must our children suffer another year? And, is the St. Paul’s Anglican Church aware of what is happening right under its nose?
Do we have to take action as parents and ask all parents to come into the school to look at the conditions? Must we write publicly to get problems solved when a school has a principal and a management team who should make recommendations and demand a better environment for students to perform?
This is absolutely ridiculous! I am asking for your swift attention to these matters at the school and that they be solved soonest. Our nation’s children all deserve smaller class populations with well-ventilated classrooms. When a class of small kids has only one door and one window at its disposal and students are asked to suffer needlessly and we do nothing, God will certainly judge us harshly for our wicked acts towards these innocent children!
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