First it was the school management, now it is the police who have warned vendors involved in the Grantley Adams Memorial School saga to stay off the school’s property during lunchtime. They are however free to sell to school children before and after school.
Today, police officers warned the vendors that they are no longer allowed to operate from a piece of land on the same side of the school, nor from the nearby bus stop.
The officers informed the vendors, including a woman in her 70s who has been selling there for 30 years, that although the piece of land is close to the side of the road, it was still considered to be the school’s property. The woman was asked to move her car filled with her snacks and drinks. She immediately obeyed the order.
“I will pack up and leave here now and come back at 2:30 when the children come out,” the elderly woman said as she packed her car, with assistance from two other women. The police also told the vendors that the school’s management said it was okay for them to play their trade before and after school.
Recently, several vendors were asked by the school’s management to leave the property, while students had been informed that they were not to purchase food or snacks from them during school hours.
The students have, for the past four days, been protesting the quality of food available for sale at their school’s canteen, noting that it also does not meet their approval.
Today, there was a noticeable absence of the students at the perimeter fence where they have gathered over the period of their protest to air grievances. Barbados TODAY understands from a credible source that the students were warned not to gather at the familiar location during lunchtime.
This newspaper was also informed that students continued to stay away from the canteen today relying mostly on food purchases made before school.
It is also understood that members of the Board of Management met for sometime today, at the St Joseph-based institution.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training issued a statement saying officials are satisfied that the correct procedure was followed by principal Valdes Francis and the administration of the school as it relates to the removal of the vendors from the school premises adding that the ministry’s first priority must be the safety and security of the children.
“The ministry’s first priority must be security of the children and food safety. To this end, the ministry supports the directives of the administration of the school that students will not be allowed to leave the school premises without permission during the school day,” the release read.
The ministry also assured parents that health inspectors from the Ministry of Health and Wellness conducted an inspection of the canteen at the Grantley Adams Memorial Secondary School on Wednesday and were satisfied that it met the requisite health standards.
The ministry also indicated that the Boards of Management of secondary schools would continue to work with canteen concessionaires to ensure that they comply with the requisite food handling standard and that they maintain a high nutritional quality of food served.
The statement also said that discussions would continue with the health ministry to develop a policy document on nutrition for students that will be shared with all canteen operators.
“Parents, guardians and members of the public are asked not to encourage students of any school to disregard the directives of school administration. We need the cooperation of teachers, students, parents, media and the general public as we work together to enhance the education of children in our schools,” the ministry urged.
Meanwhile, the Barbados Association of Retailers, Vendors and Entrepreneurs (BARVEN), issued a statement today, in support of the vendors, and the students. Public Relations Officer, Robert Maloney, said the association is hoping to see the matter resolved to a point where everyone can be a winner.
“We are not condoning the actions of the principal, neither are we condoning any dangers, or disrespectful action by the students. Our great nation Barbados is going through a very critical time and phase in our history,” Maloney said.
The PRO stressed that the nation should be encouraging entrepreneurial activities, in light of the public and private sector sending home workers.
“It is not only sustainable development for an individual, but also for the nation,” Maloney said.