The ongoing saga involving Grantley Adams Memorial Secondary School Principal Valdez Francis and students over access to vendors selling outside the school’s premises at lunchtime has drawn the attention of the Ministry of Education.
Around 3 p.m. on Wednesday Ministry officials, led by acting Minister of Education, Senator Lucille Moe engaged in an over two-hour meeting with the principal and members of the school’s board including chairman Dr. Johnson Lewis.
Neither Francis nor Lewis would comment on the situation, which for the past three days has reportedly resulted in “hundreds” of students flocking to the institution’s outer fencing where the vendors are stationed and engaging in protests.
Some students, they report, are said to be on a “hunger strike” to protest their principal’s recent actions.
Disgruntled students did not hold back how they felt. One loudly complained “We want better service” while another shouted “These people have no hairnets, no gloves, no nothing” as he complained about the school-sanctioned service.
“We don’t get anything,” yet another said as he and his fellow students demanded an improvement to the lunchtime offerings.
The protesting students argue that the school’s canteen is charging unreasonable prices for food and claim that the food falls well below their standard of taste.
After the session, Senator Moe said the meeting was called for the school’s board to comprehensively update ministry officials on the situation unfolding at the rural school.
“We need to go back and discuss what we were just updated on. We only just got an update, so we can’t make a decision on action.”
When asked what would be done to bring the protest to an end, Moe said the education ministry would be following the correct process before making a decision.
“Everything in life is a process and certainly we would want to ensure that we follow a proper process and a process would require investigation.
“So clearly we came to a meeting, so we could be apprised of the situation and find out exactly what is occurring, so that from there we could look at it and make a decision based on whatever knowledge we gain from our investigation,” she added.
Since Monday Principal Valdez Francis ordered that all gates be locked during lunchtime, including the gates leading to the playing field, in an apparent attempt to prevent his charges from leaving the premises to make food and snack purchases.
The volatile situation has left parents uneasy. Meanwhile, vendors outside the school when Barbados TODAY visited would only indicate that the situation was “frustrating”.