If the taps at the St Joseph Primary School are still dry by next Monday, not only will parents be keeping their children away from class, but they will be headed straight to the Ministry of Education to protest.
The lack of water forced the school to close early Tuesday and spokesperson for the parents Andrew Dixon told Barbados TODAY the Ministry now has until Friday to ensure that the crack in an existing water tank at the school is repaired, and a new tank and pump donated to the school back in May are installed.
“The Ministry of Education asked us to give them until Friday and see if they get everything finished. We will not allow our children to go to school on Monday if it is not finished. We will be pushing for all the children to assemble and we will not allow our children to go in the school because it is not right to the students, teachers or parents,” he said in a telephone interview.
Tuesday, a team of officials including an officer from the Ministry of Education and representatives of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) visited the school for the second time in two days. The previous day, students were unable to get lunch until 2 p.m. because of the water problem.
Some teachers had threatened that if there was still no water by 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, they would leave the premises. While they did not follow through with the threat when the taps remained dry, there were no classes at the school this morning. Students assembled in the hall as teachers met with officials and Barbados TODAY noticed workmen preparing an area for the installation of the new tank.
Following the meeting with teachers, BUT President Pedro Shepherd said he was satisfied the Ministry was working to resolve the matter, although he added that the authorities had more than enough time during the summer holiday to get the work done.
“It is sad that the situation at St Joseph had to come to light at this time, but I am hoping that these are things that we can learn from and I believe that the Ministry of Education would learn from this situation,” he said.
Shepherd reported that teachers were very concerned that appropriate measures were not taken to ensure that the school had an adequate supply of water from the beginning of the new term on Monday, particularly since it was located in a parish that has been hit by water outages for several months.
“We know that the water is an issue in St Joseph, so the schools in St Joseph should have been given priority in terms of the water and students returning to school,” Shepherd said.
Barbados TODAY also received word that some teachers were disgruntled that the Ministry of Education did not close the school during the repairs to the existing tank and the installation of the new one.
One staff member, who requested anonymity, said she was worried that the dust from broken concrete would affect asthmatic teachers and students.