The decision to ban the purchase of food from vendors selling outside the gates of the Grantley Adams Memorial School during lunchtime has won the support of veteran educator and controversial former school principal, Jeffrey Broomes.
Mr. Broomes advised both students and school administration that there were two options before them but neither should include the purchase of food from outside of the school’s compound.
“If you have a problem with the canteen… bring your lunch to school. But if the canteen is not providing the required service, get rid of the canteen proprietor, whoever the person is, I don’t care!” he exclaimed.
Students at the rural school engaged all week in a protest over the matter, arguing that the canteen’s prices were high and that the food fell below their standard of taste. Many said they would rather go hungry than to buy the food offered at the facility on the property compound.
Mr. Broomes told Barbados TODAY that such a situation should not be tolerated and expressed disgust that the principal seemingly did not have the support of his staff in the matter.
“I have one problem with the principal only. I don’t know why he should be down there [at the school gate supervising students] sitting down. Teachers are assigned supervisory responsibility. They should be down there doing that,” said the retired principal of the Alexandra and Parkinson Memorial secondary schools.
The educator of over 40 years’ experience has had his share of controversy. While serving as Principal of the Alexandra school, he was at the centre of an extended impasse between himself and some teachers over what many of them considered to be his dictatorial style of leadership. He became the subject of a commission of inquiry in June 2012.
Broomes however told Barbados TODAY that a situation like the one unfolding at the Grantley Adams School would not be allowed to take place under his watch.
“I never had that problem at Alexandra, because the people understood my position. At Parkinson, I called the police one time to move the vendors. I don’t like the idea of throwing food over [the gate] and food is landing on the ground for children to be picking it up. I don’t believe in that,” he said
Stating plainly that he had no problem with vendors, Broomes argued that the canteen should not be undermined as it was contracted to ensure the safety of students.
“I do not know how many of them have health certificates… if they have health certificates and they interact with the school and pay a fee; if the school allows that, fine. If the school does not accept the idea of vendors, that’s also fine to me. Because anytime you do not have a health certificate and any health issue comes up, who is responsible? The school,” he said.
Broomes also said the children’s concerns should not be ignored; However he was not having arguments about the cafeteria being too expensive.
“I don’t buy into the thing about it costing more… of course it would cost less out there, because they aren’t paying anything out there.”
Broomes also called on parents to pay a greater role in the process by engaging in dialogue with the school’s administration to ensure students wouldn’t feel the need to take matters into their own hands.