Minister of Education Ronald Jones has led a broadside against some protesting parents of students of St Mark Primary School in St Philip, suggesting they were agents of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP).
The parents were demonstrating their displeasure at the condition of the school, which the minister acknowledged was not in the best shape.
However, he was not buying their discontent, questioning whether the protestors had any interest in the welfare of the students.
“There was a St Philip North branch of the Barbados Labour Party protest action. Some people in there were not even parents. I really don’t have too much bother about people marching and protesting. They didn’t march and protest in 2012 and 2013 and there were issues at the school as well,” the minister told Barbados TODAY following a presentation yesterday at his office in the Elsie Payne Complex, St Michael.
Jones said a number of improvements had been made to the school in 2015/2016, including changing the roof, refurbishing the main building and changes to the toilets.
He said he had no problem with parents who had a genuine interest in their children’s well-being.
However, he insisted that those involved in the protest were engaging in propaganda in furtherance of their own interests.
“What I’m condemning is the propagandistic approach taken by some to feather their own nest. Ignorant of what has gone before. So in the presence of deliberate ignorance, one gets this deliberate propagandistic approach,” he told Barbados TODAY.
He also questioned whether photographs circulating on social media showing furniture strewn around the school were authentic.
In fact, the minister hinted the scattered furniture might have been a deliberate act, a suggestion that it was done to embarrass Government.
“When I saw the pictures on Facebook and saw furniture scattered around the school. No principal is going to allow that to happen. They would be stacked for disposal in one location. So I’m wondering if it was a deliberate act by someone.
“I was in Parliament when I saw it and I called the Chief Education Officer immediately and told her ensure the furniture was removed immediately because it could become a hazard to children and teachers. That furniture was removed from around the school. And that’s just not because there was pending industrial action, we have always looked out for the safety of our children,” he stressed.
The Minister of Education said he was well aware of the situation at the primary school, which he said had been earmarked for further renovations.
However, he said no work was done on it last summer because other schools were on the priority list, although he stressed that Government had intended to build a new school in the district.
“We had identified land, privately owned and we also looked at some owned by the Government. That school is 185 years old and the current building is just over 100 years old. It’s made of limestone and that presents its own challenges . . . . So if everything had gone according to plan in 2018 would have seen St Marks being architecturally designed,” Jones explained.