By Kaelanne Jordan
CEO of the Catholic Education Board of Management (CEBM) Sharon Mangroo has responded to news of peaceful protest action outside the community centre by parents of pupils at St Dominic’s RC Primary, Penal who are calling for a new school. News of the protest came as the Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly was touring south schools Tuesday, May 17.
Mangroo told Catholic News that the Penal RC school, built in 1967, was found to be structurally unsound and subsequently recommended for demolition and replacement sometime in 2016/2017. At present, the school has not been demolished.
The staff and pupils were “temporarily” housed in the Parish Hall (Infants) and the community centre (Standards One to Five). As the temporary nature stretched on, in 2018 the new Parish Priest, Fr Robert Christo undertook the Church Hall refurbishment to make it more “habitable.”
Work included adding AC units, windows for ventilation, upgrades to roof, door installation for classrooms and general aesthetic upgrades.
According to Mangroo, “then the community centre was a problem because at one point it wasn’t OSHA compliant. The Ministry of Education (MoE) did some work until OSHA was satisfied. It’s been ongoing…So it’s not as neglected,” she explained.
Mangroo highlighted that some facility upgrade was done to the community centre through the MoE to make the pupils and staff a bit more comfortable.
According to the agreement with the MoE for use of the RC school property, the MoE conducts repairs and will replace the school building when it becomes necessary.
The MoE has not yet approached the CEBM with plans to replace the school, Mangroo revealed.
Questioned on the government’s involvement, Mangroo commented, “They say they have no money to rebuild…We have a number of schools to be rebuilt…”
There are 253 students and 14 teachers at St Dominic’s RC.
On Dr Nyan Dolly’s Facebook post on Tuesday, she highlighted the significance of school visits adding “because schools are the raison d’etre of the MOE; they’re where the rubber hits the road. Everything we do, every policy made, is in furtherance of our schools and the precious children they educate. We must never miss the forest for the trees; yet every tree and every school is important. One can glean so much from what seems like a simple visit; it is at the same time refreshing and revealing. It sharpens your focus, keeps the critical issues before you, and gives you a firsthand view of the realities. School visits keep it real.”
Among the schools Gadsby-Dolly visited on her south tour were: first stop, Erin Road Presbyterian School, Siparia East Secondary School, Quarry village government ECCE Centre, St Bridgid’s Girls RC School, Siparia Boys RC, Siparia Union Presbyterian primary, St Christopher’s Anglican primary, Siparia Hindu ECCE and Siparia Hindu SDMS Primary.