By Lara Pickford-Gordon
St Finbar’s Girls’ RC Arouca was the only Catholic RC school of 118 which did not open on Monday for the new academic year. A few schools had to make alternative arrangements for classes to continue due to infrastructure issues.
The ministry via a release, and Education Minister Anthony Garcia in an interview, confirmed St Finbar’s did not open on time. The delayed opening was caused by a disruption in the water supply which prevented the contractor from cleaning and sanitising after repairs executed during the July–August holidays. The project involved among other things, electrical work, refurbished drinking troughs, repairs to the ceiling of the infants’ classes, and replacement of roof sheeting. First Vice-President of the National Parent Teachers Association (NPTA) Clarance Mendoza told the Catholic News Tuesday, September 3rd the contractor was on site early Monday doing the clean-up. “The compound is cleared; classes are in session today,” Mendoza said.
At a media conference August 30 at the Education Ministry Port of Spain to inform of plans for the new academic year and other news, Education Minister Anthony Garcia said 194 projects were undertaken at schools during July–August. He disclosed 75 per cent were successfully completed but there were “challenges” at some schools. He hoped these would be overcome by Monday 2. The schools were: Fishing Pond Presbyterian, Woodbrook Secondary, Warrenville Presbyterian, Aranguez North Secondary and Couva West Secondary.
Questioned about the status of specific Catholic schools, Garcia said construction was ongoing on the new wing of the Diego Martin Girls’ RC. “It is hoped before the end of the new term that wing will be completed. There were some delays and we have been able to overcome those delays,” Garcia said. In the meantime, he assured “It does not impact on the rest of the school”.
Dr Lovell Francis, Minister of State in the Ministry said the students of Santa Maria RC, Penal Rock Road, Moruga continue to be housed at his constituency office, Bois Jean Jean, Moruga. Francis said the school was condemned because of extensive damage from the 6.9 earthquake on August 21, 2018. “The site has been cleared and we are in the midst of getting ready to do the construction,” he added. There were issues before the earthquake with the electricals and bat infestation.
The pupils of Poole RC began the new school term at St Therese RC, Naparima-Mayaro Road, Rio Claro. Via Facebook, Poole RC Parent Teachers’ Association alerted parents, “Please be advised that all preparation has been made for our children’s continued success. Parents and guardians please note that as of Monday 2nd September 2019 all children and parents are to report for school at the St. Therese RC.”
Mendoza said the children should be 100 per cent settled, today, Tuesday September 3rd. A shuttle has to be organised by the Ministry.
The Poole PTA in a post August 17 reported the Chief Civil Engineer Office of the Ministry of Works deemed the school building unsafe and unfit. It was found to have many structural defects, did not satisfy the code requirements for schools and posed a danger to occupants since their safety could not be guaranteed if an earthquake occurred.