March for our climate
September 17, 2018
Great cuisine and entertainment to help Education
September 17, 2018

Urgent repairs needed in RC schools

The closed administrative block at St Benedict’s College, La Romaine.


The damage from the 6.9 magnitude earthquake on August 21 caused some RC schools to remain closed for the new academic year which started September 3.  There were schools whose opening was delayed by issues unrelated to the earthquake and others which opened on time but need urgent repairs.

Diego Martin Girls’ RC, Church Street, resumed classes last Monday, September 10 after arrangements were made to accommodate classes. Repairs were to commence on the roof but the earthquake caused more damage so the specifications for repairs had to be adjusted.

Infants and Standards One and Four were shifted to the building which housed the senior classes; the Standard Five class was relocated to the St Joseph Hall and Standards Two and Three to the parish hall.

Santa Maria RC, Moruga also did not open because existing cracks were widened. Plans were being made to accommodate the approximately 55 pupils to continue their education.

The Belmont Girls’ RC has been closed due to problems with the students’ and teachers’ toilets; the children’s drinking troughs require repairs because of leaks. The school has mosquitoes and roaches. Teachers reported for duty but were not teaching because of the unhealthy conditions.

Other schools which opened but had structural damage from the earthquake are: La Veronica RC—external staircase condemned; St David’s RC, St Benedict’s RC—detachment of the louvre system from the wall; Brazil RC—support stand for a water tanks damaged, (the tanks are overhead the pupils’ drinking troughs);  and cracks at Presentation College, San Fernando.

St Anthony’s (Petit Valley) Girls’ RC closed access to the library because of damage to a column. A ceiling panel has to be replaced in a classroom but tuition was not disrupted. Reports were submitted to the Catholic Education Board of Management (CEBM) and Education Ministry.

An official of the Disaster Management Unit of the Diego Martin Regional Corporation conducted an inspection on August 30.

At the secondary level, the earthquake caused damage to the section with the female toilet block at Holy Faith Convent, Penal; and library at Holy Name Convent Pt Fortin.

In St Benedict’s College, the administrative block was closed; the offices housed in this section include the principal, vice principal and clerical. Nine classrooms were also impacted.

Principal Anne Gomes-Phillips via the school’s Facebook page last Tuesday informed that a visual inspection of the Administration Block was done. She stated, “Based on the inspection letter determined by the Ministry of Works Engineers, OSHA recommended that a barricade be erected around the Admin Block-Main Office, to prevent unauthorised entry or access. There is no school until the barricade is erected and completed. Please await further updates.”

At Holy Name Convent, Port of Spain, there were changes to the accommodation of classes because while checks following the earthquake did not show damage, rubble was seen following the aftershock.

Further investigation found the structural integrity of the roof in different areas was compromised and second-floor classrooms are now closed. Classes resumed Wednesday September 5, for the Forms One and Five students, Lower and Upper Six. The other forms returned to the school last Monday (September 10) but are housed in other areas around the school and in the Chapel attached to the primary school.

The opening of Our Lady of Fatima RC, Laventille was also delayed to last Monday but this was to allow some minor work to be completed by the Education Facilities Company Ltd. The school got upgraded washrooms during the holiday with funding by parishioners of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, San Fernando. The CEBM has provided space at 34B Belmont Circular Road to house St Phillip’s Government Primary.

The technical handover of the new St Francis Boys’ RC school (Belmont Boys) took place August 30. However, all the children could not begin classes September 3 because of insufficient furniture. The Infants and Standard Five classes began school last Monday and it was hoped the school would have more furniture by the end of the week.

At a media briefing at the head office of the Education Ministry on September 1, Minister Anthony Garcia said school supervisors were instructed to visit all schools after the earthquake; the initial visits resulted in 66 schools being “flagged” for having “different degrees of damage”.

The Ministry of Works was contacted to provide a comprehensive report. Structural engineers in the days after the earthquake visited about 50 of the schools and advised four to remain closed because they “pose a danger”. Garcia said, “We are doing our best to ensure what works need to be done are done expeditiously”.

He had taken the report from engineers to the meeting of the Cabinet August 30. Garcia told media there were a number of schools which suffered structural damage that had to be reviewed.