The information technology lab and other classrooms at the temporary building housing Thomas Saunders Secondary School at the tarmac of the decommissioned airport at Arnos Vale has been without electricity for months.
And, with the second term of the school year underway, the parent of a Form 5 student told iWitness News, on Sunday, that she is concerned about her child’s preparation for her school-leaving examinations.
Multiple parents contacted iWitness News about the situation on the weekend, saying that they discussed it with their children’s teachers during the annual teacher-parent meetings last week.
One parent said their child first reported the situation in October, while others said they received reports in November.
The mother of the Form 5 student told iWitness News that the child is studying IT and electronic document preparation and management (EDPM), two subjects for which students need access to an IT lab.
“So, the SBAs (school-based assessments) cannot be done. They are not doing anything for IT or EDPM because there is no electricity at the school. Only the office has electricity,” the parent of the Form 5 student told iWitness News.
“It was not always like that,” the parent told iWitness News, adding that during Parents Day last week, teachers said there is nothing they can do about the situation.
The parent told iWitness News that teachers said that the situation had been reported to BRAGSA, the state agency responsible for the maintenance and repair of public infrastructure, but nothing has been done.
“I asked the teachers how the students are going to prepare for CXC, which is around the corner in May and June. They said they did not know,” the parent told iWitness News.
“I am really concerned because it is hard. I am sure CXC will not say ‘Thomas Saunders Secondary School did not have electricity so we will give its students extra time.’
“The computers at the school are not functioning properly,” the parent further told iWitness News.
“Since October the students were told that computers are at Customs but up to now none has arrived at the school,” the parent said.
She said that before the complaints about no electricity in the IT lab, her child had told her that the computer monitors were not working.
The parents said she was going to buy a laptop so that her child could prepare for her exams.
“But the teachers said that does not make sense because they have to teach the students so that they will know what to do and the teachers need electricity to operate the projector.
Meanwhile, two other parents, one of a Form 1 student and another of a Form 2 student told iWitness News, on Sunday, that their children have been affected by the situation.
The parent of the Form 1 student told iWitness News that the IT teacher told her that the students should have been doing more practical work in the lab this term, but cannot do so because of the electricity issue.
The parent said the teacher told her that the school has an electricity problem and is trying to safeguard the children.
She said her child reported to her sometime before the Christmas break that the school has no internet because of a problem with the electricity.
The other parent told iWitness News that the teachers told her that the electricity problem existed since October.
She said she was told that it was the result of a wiring issue.
“It is hindering the students’ education,” the parent said.
iWitness News was unsuccessful in reaching Minister of Education Curtis King by cell phone on Sunday evening and will report any updates on the situation.
The situation has come to the fore days after a premature end to the Budget Debate in which King and other government ministers did not make contributions.
TSSS is housed in one of two wooden campuses that the government built at the decommissioner aerodrome in mid 2021, to house students of the St. Vincent Grammar School (SVGS) and Girls High School (GHS), whose campuses were in need of extensive repair.
After SVGS students returned to their school at Richmond Hill, Kingstown, students from TSSS were sent to the temporary campus.
It is not clear for how much longer the school will remain in the temporary building in Arnos Vale, as the government has said that the TSSS campus in Richmond Hill will need more extensive repair, and possible reconstruction.
GHS could remain at Arnos Vale until next year, the government has said.