The problems being experienced at the St George Secondary School will have the “fullest and faithful attention” of the Ministry of Education.
This firm assurance from the Minister of Education Ronald Jones, while suggesting that some of the structural problems affecting the Constant, St George learning institution were as a result of shoddy work done by building contractors.
“It is unfortunate because about nine to ten years ago St George had major work on its electrical outlay. It had upgrading of some aspects of the plant and I was amazed to see some of the conditions that exist there,” Jones told Barbados TODAY, while admitting that the school was in need of a “substantial amount of work”.
“So we have to make sure that our supervision of work is spot on. Contractors who work on all of our schools have to ensure that they do good work relative to what they are paid or a system would have to be developed where they are blacklisted from doing any work within the schools,” he added.
Following a tour of the educational plant some eight weeks ago, the minister said he had advised his permanent secretary of the need for a “very forceful rehabilitation”. He made a point of saying that this was before any talks took place with the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) on the issue.
“Based on the enormity, this don’t need to be a fight,” Jones said.
“This needs cooperation, collaboration and support from all parties involved to work towards the solutions for these things,” he stressed.
Last week education officials met with teachers for talks on what the BSTU said were deep-seated issues plaguing the learning institution.
Among the concerns tabled during the four-hour meeting, which was also attended by Chief Education Officer Karen Best, Director of the Education Technical Management Unit Richard Harrison and the chairman of the school’s board of management Joseph Holder, were student-on-teacher violence, student-on-student violence, environmental health and safety concerns, general indiscipline and reform of the school curriculum.
A second round of talks had been scheduled for May 4 in a bid to resolve those issues.
However, Jones warned that the solutions would not come cheap, even though he maintained that “St George Secondary will have our fullest and faithful attention”.
“Bearing in mind there is no cheap solution to these things. There is need for some painting, and . . . I have in my possession . . . a whole list of equipment that we have to get rid of and new equipment brought in the technical vocational area. Those are not cheap,” he said.
Nonetheless, he assured that Government would continue to work “systematically” wherever there was a call by teachers, by the unions and parents “to make sure that at least minimum standards are met”.