I am not professing to having the answers to everything and actually I am not saying I have the answers to anything either, but I would love to know who has the answers to why after more than eight weeks vacation, some schools are still in desperate need of repairs and deemed unsafe for returning students.
Is there any one person to blame for this or a collective group? If so, who exactly? Is it the head teacher, PTA, Ministry of Education or the Minister himself?
The one school that comes to mind is the Society Primary, which happens to be where I had my education as an infant and junior. Mr. Carl W. Springer was the head at the time and I must say the best head teacher ever anywhere. I say that with no apologies. I cannot remember there ever being a sad moment while going there and Mr. Springer along with the wonderful staff of teachers, janitorial and serving team made sure each one of us were in the best way possible. The school is in no way housed in a modern building, and from the time I knew about it, it was always old.
Like most schools there were the temporary class rooms which to this day are still called the temporary class rooms. I left that school in 1982 and those temporary classrooms still remain. Taking from the Prime Minister’s definition of temporary, meaning for the time being, it seems those temporary structures have been there much longer than for the time being, so they should be known now as permanent ones. I guess temporary can be determined by the persons making the decisions to retain or be rid of.
Society Mixed School, as it was known during my time, always had the wooden stairs at the front and the back leading to the top floor. As infants we never liked walking those stairs and not because they creaked, but because they always seemed a bit dangerous to our little legs coming down. I witnessed a few students roll from the top to the bottom and get up stunned and unhurt too it seemed. I would hate to believe those stairs still exist. The staircase to the front seemed safer. Though a bit longer, it had a more protective feature to it so we had no major issue using that one. In my time the school had no proper playing field. We had to make use of the grounds of Codrington College, and the property above the school which is now owned by Sir Henry and Lady Forde. Our sports were at The Lodge school and at times we did some sporting events at Gall Hill.
I have to say that through the years I have seen schools rebuilt, renamed and refurbished. Society has not been so fortunate. Governments have come and gone and returned over time and still nothing. Where are the budgets for such schools? Do they even have one in place worth mentioning? When complaints are made by parents and teachers are they falling on deaf ears or are they being met by empty promises? Could it be that they are waiting on a good samaritan to come and do the needed repairs and development of the facilities, and if so who will that person be? I have not been through the compound of the school in a while but I am wondering if the children still have to use the toilets outside to the back of the main building with the long steps. When rain fell and you needed to use them you got a drenching or you may try to avoid the one from the heavens and the one from the bladder took care of your underpants etc. I trust things have changed, but it seems like they are getting worse. I don’t recall not being able to return to school because of poor facilities, but it is the norm now it seems.
I know things are very rough financially with every business and institution, but there must be somewhere that important institutions such as schools don’t fall to such deplorable states. I am seeing all the SUVs, pickup trucks, and executive vehicles being used by various government ministries for years now. Are they coming free or does the government pay for them? I sure wish that someone will make a decision to purchase more fuel efficient vehicles for the messengers to use and the staff who require them and put some of that money towards a fund where the schools wouldn’t be suffering. It’s not a case of children destroying the school this time, but a straight case of the school being too rundown and neglected. I say shame on whosoever the culprits are. Money has been found to fix many other areas in Barbados that could have waited. Former governments are guilty of such and it seems to be continuing. Once again it seems as though a St. John facility is being neglected. If the PTA of this school had to rally parents not to send their children back there unless proper steps are taken to fix the mess there, maybe we would see a change. The problem is that there is no primary school in the vicinity for parents to take them to. The ones that may be thought of are small and cannot hold the children and may not be too far from a state of disrepair like Society is.
The fact of the matter is that Society Primary needs to be replaced by a new structure. The current facility is very rundown and below the standards of what should be accepted. We have turned from planting food and canes over the years to planting concrete. I would if I could, acquire some land from the Society Plantation to build this school on and keep it in the district. I don’t know how hard that could be but something must be done. When that happens the school will be renamed of course as is the trend, so I am suggesting Carl W. Springer. His record will speak for itself and I believe in honouring them before they die. Let him be the recipient of such an honor. Ask anyone who passed through him and they will agree with me. He was a no nonsense man but showed every one of the children at the school love. He knew everyone’s parents by name and if need be would be able to speak to them one on one without any issue after giving you a cut tail with “Tommy”. Who went there will know of Tommy. I surely hope this mess is sorted real sooner than later as school is back in session, therefore it is already late as it is.