President of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) Pedro Shepherd is calling on the Ministry of Education to re-examine its school maintenance programme.
Shepherd was commenting on the protest action which occurred Friday at the St Mark’s Primary School. Some 30 concerned parents gathered outside the gate of the Blades Hill, St Philip protesting deplorable and unhealthy conditions at the school.
The parents said the school had been neglected for years, there are no proper bathroom facilities, classroom chalkboards are infested with termites and there are numerous cracks and broken tiles in the school hall and classrooms.
“The ministry needs to have a proper maintenance programme and the summer programme needs to be looked at differently,” said Shepherd who added, “we need to look at comprehensive programmes to repair a lot of the older schools”.
Shepherd said that St Mark’s is not the only school that is a health and safety hazard. He said teachers at a rural primary school in St John have complained of respiratory problems.
“I keep saying that the short-term fixing is not helping, where you have schools with mold . . . and you go in and sanitize and you go in and put back the charts on the wall or you refuse to cover the wall with something that would not allow the moisture to seep through,” he argued.
He went on to suggest that routine industrial maintenance by the general workers would solve a lot of the environmental issues plaguing the schools.
“The general workers in our schools need to be trained and equipped to deal with the issues in the schools. A lot of the schools just want routine maintenance. If we had routine maintenance, then we wouldn’t have the massive repairs . . . that we tend to find coming up to the summer programme,” Shepherd pointed out.