Protest by Rio Claro ASJA Primary over delay in repairs

More than a week after the government announced that repairs would start at Rio Claro ASJA Primary school, parents staged a protest outside the Ministry's office at Rio Claro on Friday.

The parents have been waiting for work to begin since the school was closed last September and when they saw no mobilization of contractors this week, they decided to take protest action.

Careful not to block the roads or pavement, the parents lined up on the pavements outside the office chanting, "Fix the School now."

Since the building was shut down last September over a bat infestation, the roof has been falling apart in several places. An official said they have found seven snakes in the unoccupied building over the past two weeks.

"We have lots of rats in the school as well as the snakes," the source added.

President of the PTA, Veda Maharaj said every time they begin organizing a protest, someone would give assurances that repairs would begin. 

" We want to see it in writing. We want to see contractors mobilising on the spot. We want back our school because our children are not comfortable where they are," Maharaj said. 

Since the school was closed, pupils have been attending classes at the Rio Claro Presbyterian School and at the Rio Claro Masjid.

"Although we are appreciative of both the Rio Claro Presbyterian School Board and the Rio Claro Masjid Board facilitating the children during this time, we are fed up of our children suffering in hot classrooms with improper washroom facilities," Maharaj said. She noted that six classes are housed in the masjid where there is only one washroom each for males and females.

Maharaj said the SEA class was facing challenges.

"The classrooms are not conducive to learning. There are poor security and water problems. The classes have 20 children each and this accommodation was supposed to be a temporary measure," Maharaj said.

Another parent Florence Mohammed said Rio Claro ASJA was one of the top performing schools in the region.

"We cannot stand by and allow our children's lives to be ruined. We want the Ministry to fix the school now," she said.

Collin Emrith said there was a perception that because alternative accommodations were made for the pupils, classes were running smoothly. However. he said this was not true.

"My daughter was locked out of the school at 3 pm after the security came and locked up the mosque. If you run a little late in picking up your child, they will put your child out the gate and anything can happen to them. This is not right," Emrith said.

Minister of Education Anthony Garcia said arrangements have already been made for the school roof to be changed.  He said the scope of works have already been submitted and a contract was awarded so works will begin soon. 

- by Radhica De Silva. Photo by Kristian De Silva,

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