A good start but still a long way to go, says the Barbados Union of Teachers’ (BUT) in reaction to Government’s moves to fix environmental and security problem at two countryside schools last week.
Now a number of other rural and suburban schools, hindered by similar concerns, are also in need of urgent attention, said BUT president Sean Spencer.
He said the union expressed gratitude for attempts to rid the Blackman and Gollop Primary School at Staple Grove, Christ Church of a pesky cow-itch vine recurrence and the repair of fences at Ellerton Primary School, St George.
Spencer told Barbados TODAY: “It is a start and we are grateful for it but if you look across the system you would see that there are a number of other cases that require similar attention.”
He said that cow-itch vine has now surfaced at the Milton Lynch Primary School at Water Street, Christ Church.
“There is cow-itch in the vicinity of that school. This is something that we have confirmed,” said Spencer, who revealed that the BUT would be conducting further investigations in order to determine the effect of the of the sporous vine on the school’s operations.
But regardless of the extent of the impact, the BUT head is calling on the Government to address the matter urgently.
Following talks with the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Education last Friday, the owner of the lands of the disused Staple Grove plantation opposite the Blackman and Gollop School near St David’s agreed to a large-scale clearing of the field.
Work included grading the field by four inches and burying the pods and seeds of the itchy plant in deep trenches.
That same day, Acting Minister of Education Lucille Moe revealed that a new perimeter fence is to be built at the Ellerton Primary School to address security fears among teachers and stop intruders after three incidents that week.
But Spencer is concerned that no mention was made of the other schools that are also without perimeter fences which also compromises the safety of teachers and their charges.
Spencer said: “[Acting Minister Senator Moe] mentioned the patience of the staff at the school and while that is appreciated… there are other schools in a similar state where the perimeter fencing is wholly inadequate – pun intended.” He named St Silas Primary as another example.
In addition to not mentioning how security deficiencies at other schools are to be addressed, the trade unionist told Barbados TODAY that while he is happy with the action taken thus far, he also expressed concern that the actions were taken without formally informing the teachers’ bargaining agent.
“Work has commenced but what I am actually dissatisfied with is the fact that the ministry has taken action which we are wholly supportive of, but we have not received any word, directly or indirectly, on what course of action would be taken throughout the entire exercise,” Spencer declated.