Repairs to start soon on St. Winefride's Secondary School
-- contracts awarded for repairs to other schools
Guyana Chronicle
September 6, 2002

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PERMANENT Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Mr. Hydar Ally has announced that the contract for the rehabilitation of St. Winefride's Secondary School on Garnett Street, Georgetown, has been concluded.

According to a statement issued by Ally yesterday, the contract has been awarded to contractor C.T. Haynes for $5,517,530 and work is expected to begin within another three weeks.

In addition, contracts have been awarded for the rehabilitation of St. Stanislaus College, Houston Community High School, St. George's Nursery School and the Allied Arts Unit, he said.

Ally explained that these projects were programmed to be done during the August vacation but due to bottlenecks in the tender process, they were delayed and will now be done during the school term.

He said alternative arrangements would be made to accommodate students where necessary.

"The Ministry of Education regrets the inconvenience that will be caused to students and staff of schools for which rehabilitation works will commence," the Permanent Secretary said.

The staff and students at St. Winefride's Secondary on Tuesday abandoned classes in protest against the existing physical conditions at the school.

Headmistress, Ms. Avril Crawford, who is also the General Secretary of the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU), had identified several physical problems which impede upon the proper functioning of the institution.

These, she said, include the poor state of the fence and windows, appalling toilet facilities, inadequate lighting facilities, poor ventilation and overcrowding.

Ms. Crawford said these problems had not developed overnight but had existed for several years and pleadings to have the problems rectified had not borne any positive results.

She said that as recent as the last August vacation she reminded the Ministry of Education through a letter, about the existing deplorable conditions, but nothing had been done.

She also said that an official of the ministry had promised to visit the school on Monday last, the first day of the new school year, but did not show up as promised.

The Headmistress noted that among the most pressing problems is the condition of the fence, pointing out that it poses a serious security hazard because the school is located near the street and children can easily step through it and come into contact with passing vehicles.

They can also escape from school without being detected, which can pose several complicated problems, Crawford said.

St. Winefride's was originally a primary school but was converted into a secondary school in 2000.

It was built to accommodate about 400 students but now has a population of more than 550 students.

This has been causing severe overcrowding and discomfort, Crawford explained, adding that the discomfort is compounded because the children being of secondary school age are bigger in stature.

The Headmistress had said that her staff were willing to work but the physical conditions are revolting.

She had said that as long as there was a definite assurance that the problems will be rectified they would resume duty.