By Ramona LuthiChief Education Officer Olato Sam shut down Brickdam Secondary School on Tuesday, in response to a sit-in by the teachers at the school last week. On Tuesday, Sam asked students to return home while requesting that teachers vacate the premises after submitting all school records.However, according to the teachers of the Secondary School, the decision to sit in was made after their numerous demands for better work and educational facilities fell on deaf ear. They highlighted that over the years, there have been scores of complaints pertaining to the hazardous and unsanitary conditions students as well as teachers are forced to dwell in on a daily basis, but nothing except emptyChief Education Officer Olato Sam at the PTA meetingpromises came from the Education Ministry.“The decision to close the school down came after the teachers took a stand for better working conditions and generally an environment that is conducive for learning. Teachers asked for these things. We’ve been asking for these things for years and it has reached to the point where it is overbearing. The students and the teachers have decided that we’ve had enough and we would like the Ministry to do something about it,” one teacher said.Meanwhile, a Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) meeting was held at St Stanislaus College on Tuesday with the Chief Education Officer, Assistant Chief Education Officer Leslyn Charles, the Principal Education Officer responsible for schools in Georgetown, the District Education Officer in Georgetown, other representatives of the Ministry, the PTA Board Chairman, scores of parents and students of the Brickdam Secondary.At the meeting, Sam highlighted that after being informed that the teachers of the Brickdam Secondary School were on strike, he, along with members of the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) and other officers of the Education Ministry, met with them on Friday last to resolve the issues. The Chief Education Officer said that it was his understanding that a compromise was made between him and the teachers whereby emergency repairs would be conducted over the weekend, and teachers would resume working for the remaining three weeks of the school’s semester, giving the Ministry time to implement permanent restoration measures at the school for the new term in September.However, on Monday, he found that this was not the situation as he was informed that the teachers still refused to work. Sam asserted that it was this that resulted in his decision to have the school closed, students relocated to other schools in order to continue their secondary education, and teachers to different educational facilities.“As a result of the teachers not working, we had to devise the best plan of action in the best interest of our students so that they get an education, complete the end-of-term assessment and everything else. And that would give us an opportunity to satisfy our teacher’s demands. We cannot allow teachers to sit in at the school for the remainder of the term when our students aren’t learning anything. It’s totally unacceptable and so our teachers have all been reassigned to other schools.”According to the Chief Education Officer, the students would be admitted to Grade “A” schools such as North Georgetown Secondary, Christ Church Secondary, Central High School and North Ruimveldt Multilateral High School for the rest of the term while the Ministry assesses its options to provide a permanent solution.However, this announcement resulted in a massive disruption within the crowd of parents as they chanted “No!” to the list of schools provided by Sam.Parents and teachers angrily expressed their frustrations towards Sam, who voiced that since the teachers refused to take the option of resuming work at Brickdam Secondary for the next three weeks and be given a permanent resolution next term, it was now “off the table”.He left the meeting shortly after declaring this, since the commotion created by parents did not quiet down.Teachers of the Secondary School told Guyana Times that they were prepared to work and would have readily accepted the condition put forward by the Chief Education Officer, had he mentioned it prior to the meeting.They voiced that their only concern revolved around better facilities for the children that they teach. The teachers asserted that the decision to have students and teachers relocated was done out of spite: “The Ministry wants to make us an example because we stood up for our rights.”It was also relayed that the Headmistress of the school refused to stand up with the teachers in their fight for better facilities.While some parents agreed with the decision to have the children relocated on a temporary basis, many refused to accept it. These parents voiced their belief that their children were being subjected to unfair treatment having been transferred to schools that were considered below the educational standard.“We have no choice. This is being shoved down our throats. We have no choice. My child has been disenfranchised because they wanna send her down to a lower school. We don’t have a choice. What is this? Is this communism? Is this the change I voted for? No. No way,” asserted a parent, Tracy Martin.
0Shares0000England coach Gareth Southgate famously missed a penalty at Euro 96 © AFP / GABRIEL BOUYSSAINT PETERSBURG, Russian Federation, Jul 1 – England have projected this World Cup as a fresh start for a new generation but the team’s record of failure in penalty shoot-outs may not be so easy to forget.Penalties have been the death of England at six of the last 12 major tournaments and in that time, they have won only once, against Spain at Euro ’96. Gareth Southgate’s playing career was defined by the shot he side-footed into the hands of Andreas Kopke as England then lost in the semi-finals at Wembley to Germany.“I have had a couple of decades thinking it through,” Southgate said last week.His experience has informed his own approach now as coach, with a last 16 tie against Colombia to come on Tuesday and the possibility of penalties looming again.Southgate was in the World Cup squad in 1998 under Glenn Hoddle, who believed shoot-outs were a lottery, impossible to replicate in training and therefore not worth any form of practice.England duly lost to Argentina on spot-kicks and missed out on the quarter-finals.If there is one thing Southgate has been determined to drill into the preparation of his players, it is that penalty shoot-outs are not decided by chance.England forward Harry Kane takes part in a training session in Saint Petersburg © AFP / GABRIEL BOUYS“It’s definitely not chance,” Marcus Rashford said from England’s training base in Repino on Sunday.“It’s a skill and every skill takes time to learn and to perfect. It’s never a chance. It’s just about being able to perform it with pressure.”England have been practising penalties since March. The players rehearse the walk from the halfway line as well as their shot. Southgate has deployed video analysts and psychometric testing to gauge his most reliable takers.“There have been occasions where you even tell the goalkeepers which way you’re going so it has to be the perfect penalty,” Rashford said.England’s goalkeeper Jordan Pickford has saved five out of 30 penalties faced during matches, a similar record to his two back-ups, Jack Butland, whose record is four from 25, and Nick Pope, who is three from 13.It is standard practice now for keepers to study their opponents’ habits, even if Pickford was left stumped when Tunisia’s Ferjani Sassi stepped up in England’s opening match.“The lad who scored it had never taken a pen before. I was struggling with where to go,” Pickford said. “I got fingertips on it and went the right way, which is promising.”Belgium’s Thibaut Courtois has suggested Pickford, at 1.85 metres tall, carries a disadvantage but Colombia’s stopper David Ospina is even smaller at 1.83 metres.England might take heart too from Ospina’s record. In spot-kicks awarded during games, he has saved only three out of 38 and one in his last 15. In shoot-outs, he helped Colombia past Peru in the Copa America two years ago by blocking Miguel Trauco’s effort with his legs.For England, half the battle will surely be mental. How heavy will the past weigh on the present?“We can’t change the past, it’s gone now,” Rashford said.“All we can look forward to is what is in front of us and I don’t think we ever think about that type of thing with England. It would put you on a bit of a downer.“We understand it but that record is definitely not something that is on our minds.”Rashford said he would be willing to put his hand up, as did Dele Alli when he was asked on Saturday.Harry Kane, who slammed two penalties into the top corner against Panama, would certainly be one of the five, while Jamie Vardy, who takes them for Leicester, is an option off the bench.Jordan Henderson, Kieran Trippier and Kyle Walker could also be on Southgate’s list.“You have to control it, you have to own it,” Alli said. “I’m confident in myself and what’s meant to be will be.“We’ve got to try to work hard on the penalties and we have been, we’re trying to own the situation, not let it own us. It’s changed the whole mindset for us.”0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)