Eighth District Representative Marlon Penn is not pleased with the state of the Willard Wheatley Primary School and the government’s lack of responsiveness over the urgency of the matter.
Penn contended in the House of Assembly recently, that the school was uninhabitable and not in a state of readiness for reopening. He further suggested that teachers and students were being made to work and learn under unpleasant conditions.
Based on his observations, Penn said he could not see how the school could reopen at the start of the term, after witnessing conditions during his walk-through days earlier.
Penn said he did not want to embarrass anyone or call anyone out, but noted that the heat at the school was stifling and said there was only one working air-conditioning unit at the facility during his visit.
He also explained that there was only one working urinal in the male bathroom and said he was forced to make an about-turn after going into the female bathroom.
“The playground equipment and space where the kids have to eat and play, they cannot play in that area or eat in that area,” Penn said. “It is not sanitary and we need to get that addressed before we put the gems of our community in that facility.”
Penn further stated that he would not advise parents to send their children to the school in its current condition.
Minister not pleased either
Education Minister Sharie de Castro said safety is also important to her and noted that she, too, was not pleased with the state of affairs at the school. The Minister said measures are now being taken to address the situation.
The Education Minister initially hoped that work would be completed in time for the start of the school year. However, she has now instructed her team to provide an implementation plan to ensure that the work is completed as soon as possible.
The Minister said she expressed complete dissatisfaction regarding the safety and state of the schools to her team after a walkthrough in June, telling them she couldn’t “unsee” what she had seen.
“I want to assure [Penn] and [the House of Assembly] that it is my intention and that of the Ministry to ensure that the Willard Wheatley Primary School gets its due attention to ensure that the teachers and students are operating in a safe and conducive learning environment,” de Castro said.
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