12 Jan

Education Ministry shuts down Brickdam Secondary

first_imgBy 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.last_img read more