Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 10th 2015 Contents A8
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, November 10, 2015
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prosperity, health and peace.
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Close to 900 primary school stu-
dents from the top performing
Chaguanas Government Primary
School have been sent home because
of sewer problems.
Among those affected are students
who have to begin the Continuous
Assessment Component (CAC) of the
Secondary Entrance Assessment exam-
The school has joined a growing list
of primary and secondary schools across
T&T that are being closed due to mal-
functioning sewer plants.
"Quite frankly, I have stopped count-
ing," president of the T&T Unified
Teachers Association (TTUTA),
Devanand Sinanan, said.
"Every day we are getting reports of
primary and secondary schools being
closed because of this problem."
Colin Hosein, executive member of
the Parent/Teachers Association (PTA)
of Chaguanas Government Primary, said
the Xavier Street school s 888 students
were sent home last Wednesday and
have not returned since.
He said in a meeting with acting prin-
cipal, Melissa Mitchell, yesterday morn-
ing the PTA was told the school would
remain closed indefinitely.
PTA president, Lyndon Mohammed,
said: "This is a very critical term for
students doing the CAC. There is a lot
of stuff in the curriculum that had to
start this term."
In 2011, the school produced the top
three SEA students. Its students are
often in the top 200.
Mohammed said the PTA has decided
to take a stand on the problem that has
been occurring since 2008. The sewer
usually overflows and causes a foul
stench so unbearable teachers and stu-
dents could not function, he said.
"We are having a meeting with the
PTA executive this evening (Monday).
We are giving the Education Ministry
until Wednesday to rectify the prob-
"If nothing is done, we plan to have
a meeting with parents in front the
school on Wednesday morning to decide
our next move," he added.
Mohammed said the Water and Sew-
erage Authority (WASA) checked the
school s sewer system and submitted a
report last week, stating two pumps
needed changing and the entire plant
an overhaul. He said officials from the
Education Facilities Company Ltd
(EFCL), in charge of the maintenance
and monitoring of sewer systems in all
schools, visited the school last week.
"They told us they sent a report to
the Education Ministry which oversees
the procurement of contracts and was
awaiting a response. We have been hear-
ing the same thing several days now."
Mohammed said Charles Balkaran,
former EFCL chairman, now employed
with the ministry department dealing
with the state entity, confirmed receipt
of the report.
Sinanan said EFCL contractors would
fix the problem but it would recur the
He said new Education Minister
Anthony Garcia has taken a slightly dif-
ferent approach by bringing, for the first
time, WASA into the picture.
"I hope the authorities act with
despatch to develop and implement a
proper programme of preventative main-
tenance of the school s sewer systems,"
Efforts to contact officials from the
EFCL yesterday were unsuccessful.
The parents of students of the
new Munroe Road Hindu School
took to the streets yesterday to
protest the failure to occupy the
building, blocking Warren Road
and forcing motorists to seek
The old school was closed
recently and its 300 students
moved into the spanking new
However, they were moved out
shortly after when Education Min-
istry officials told the school s
principal classes could not con-
tinue there because structural
approval was needed first.
School officials met with min-
istry representatives and it was
expected students would resume
classes at the new school yester-
However, the gates remained
shut. Parents made good on their
promise to take action if a facility
was not made available for their
children yesterday. They have been
home for two weeks.
The parents, joined by students,
staged a placard demonstration
outside the school calling on Edu-
cation Minister Anthony Garcia
to open the building.
Parents described their frustra-
tion as "overflowing." A parent
said the ministry had not been
communicating with school offi-
cials and, as a result, they did not
know what was going on.
Leaking sewer closes
top performing school
• Since the new term began in
September six schools have remained
• After being home for almost three
months, hundreds of students were still at
home awaiting repairs to Elswick
Presbyterian Primary, Tableland, Five Rivers
TIA Primary, Mt Pleasant Government
Primary, Claxton Bay, Jordan Hill
Presbyterian, Princes Town, Rio Claro East
Secondary and Rio Claro Hindu Primary
Sewer problems were identified as one of
• In February 2015, students of Princes
Town East Secondary School complained of
skin and eye irritations due to contact with
waste and sewerage rudiments.
They also experienced dizziness and
light-headedness because of the nauseating
stench in the school. Students and teachers
had to leave the school.
• In that same month, St Augustine
Secondary School resumed classes after a
week-long closure due to a sewer problem.
• In February 2014, the parents of pupils
attending the Princes Town Methodist
Primary School refused to send their
children to school because of a sewer
problem. Teachers also stayed away.
• In February, 2015, at the Debe High
School was closed because of a sewer
The ministry said the National
Maintenance, Training and Security fixed
the problem but it was reported the
problem still existed and affected the health
of students and staff members. Some of
the students and teachers reportedly fell ill
and required medical attention.
OTHER AFFECTED SCHOOLS
Parents block road in protest
Miss Divali Nagar 2015,
Chandini Chanka, shortly
after she was judged
winner of the pageant
at the Divali Nagar site,
Chaguanas, on Sunday night.
PHOTO: EDISON BOODOOSINGH
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