Parents of students of Combermere School are turning up the heat on Minister of Education Ronald Jones, demanding that he explains how his ministry intends to make up for the five weeks of tutelage lost by the 1,100 students displaced by the most recent flare up of the recurring environmental problems.
Members of the Combermere School Parent Teacher’s Association (CSPTA) gathered this morning at Queen’s Park, The City before making their way across the street to the Ministry of Education, where they delivered a letter outlining their concerns to Parliamentary Secretary Harry Husbands.
Frustrated parents were also demanding that Jones clears the air on reports that fourth form students were marked “ungraded” for some of their Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) School Based Assessment (SBA) projects.
In addition, Barbados TODAY understands that the entire third form of last academic year was similarly marked for the Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence (CCLC) examinations.
CSPTA First Vice President Alan Marshall stated that it had become apparent that the students’ plight was not being treated as important.
“We highlighted the fact that the entire third form of last year got ungraded on their CCLC exams,” Marshall said.
He also told the media that the overall CSEC grade for 180 fourth form students was being compromised because of the SBA marks.
“We were told that the marks were not submitted on time to CXC. We want an answer because we have 180 fourth formers who now have ungraded on their transcripts,” said Marshall.
The CSPTA official argued that it was unfair to expect students to do over projects or resit exams on which they would have already expended considerable time and energy.
Marshall noted that even though the group was unable to deliver their message directly to Jones, they were able to ventilate their mounting concerns to Husbands.
“Our main concerns are the lost time of education for our children. This is five weeks that they have been out without any structured teaching for our first to fourth form, and for our fifth and sixth formers in a disjointed manner at various locations.
“We would like to know what is going to be done about that, especially in light of the fact that next term is the sports term, which would mean several days of Inter-School Sports and all the other events that our student athletes would like to take part in. We don’t want to short change them [student athletes] on that [sporting activities] but we also don’t want to short change them on their education,” Marshall said.
The outspoken parent also said the Ministry of Education needed to be clear on its plan of action to prevent a repeat of the situation, once the remedial work at the school had been completed.
“While they have fixed these problems, we need to know what is going to happen with the ongoing maintenance. How are they going to prevent this problem from happening again, not only at Combermere, but also at any other school? This is a situation we would not wish on any other parent,” Marshall stressed.
The Ministry of Education shut down the school in mid-November after the mysterious environmental problems that have plagued the Waterford, St Michael learning institution since the last academic year resurfaced, with teachers and students complaining of a foul odour, which caused them to experience problems, including headaches, rashes and hoarseness.
In a statement issued later, the ministry said a special taskforce had been identified to monitor and oversee the work and would continue to monitor the environment at the school.
Classes resumed last week for fifth form students at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic in Wildey, St Michael and for sixth form students at the Erdiston Teachers’ Training College, Pine Hill Road, St Michael.
The remainder of the students are yet to return to school.