Conditions at St Stephen's Primary annex deplored
-parents nail building shut
Stabroek News
March 24, 2004

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Schools out: Angry parents expressed their feelings by boarding up the St Stephen's Primary School Annex last Thursday. Staff at the school complained that the school building is not conducive to learning. (Ken Moore photo)

Staff, students and parents are up in arms over what they all condemn as deplorable conditions at the St Stephen's Primary School annex.

The parents recently decided to abandon the school's Princes and St Stephen's Streets annex and strapped the doors shut with wooden planks.

When Stabroek News visited the school yesterday Acting Headmistress Marilyn Reid stated that the Ministry of Education had been contacted about the situation and is expected to effect repairs as soon as possible.

When asked by Stabroek News about the school's condition, Winston Browne, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Finance, Ministry of Education said, "Wooden school buildings tend to deteriorate faster than a wooden house for example, but the tender for repairs to the school will be advertised by Sunday." He added, "The tender process should take about a month for advertisement, evaluation and Tender Board consideration. And this is at a faster pace than usual." Actual repairs on the building will kickoff as soon as this process has been completed, he said.

Meanwhile, classes are being conducted on a shift system at the better of the school's two annexes. According to Reid, "the students are well taken care of." Life goes on for St Stephens Primary Prep "A" students who are now sharing space with Primary Two students on a shift system. Primary Two is scheduled to show up for the afternoon session after Prep "A" leaves at noon. (Ken Moore photo)

Students of Prep A-Primary 1 are taught during the morning hours between 9 am - noon and students in Primary 2-4 attend between 1 pm and 3 pm.

The headmistress said, "since the last school year the bigger pieces (of boards) have been going and as the months go by it has deteriorated more." She noted that the ceiling, the walls, the windows, the flooring and all the stairs are in a bad state." She said however that the sanitation blocks are okay.

With regard to the children's welfare, Reid said the deterioration of the building does affect them since dust falls from the ceiling and when it rains the children have to shift to other corners of the building to avoid getting wet.

She said too that the school's annex in which they are currently housed, "is not 100%, but we can work with it. Windows on the eastern wall are missing and heavy rains affect classes."

The teaching staff at St Stephens also expressed concerns about the condemned building. Grade Two teacher Khyla Grannum said, "wood-ants took over the stairs in the building and if the children used the stairs they may fall. A parent had to fix it."

The Prep "A" teachers all agreed that the building was old and rotting and was not conducive to learning. They noted that the ceiling is hanging, the steps have no rails and rain comes into the building. They said also that some parts of the building had gaping holes that caused their teaching aids to get soaked by the rain.

As a result of these conditions the parents last Thurs-day decided to nail the building shut. On Thursday classes were held in the school's compound and the next day the students were told to stay at home. (Christopher Yaw)