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Education Minister visits RC schools in national drive

Photo source: St Mary's College Facebook Page

Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly visited ten Port of Spain schools, both primary and secondary on Tuesday, September 27. She was accompanied by Minister in the Ministry, Lisa Morris-Julian and other ministry officials.

It was part of the national school visitation drive and included: St Patrick’s Newtown Girls’ RC and St Patrick’s Newtown Boys’ RC, Rosary Boys’ RC, St Rose’s Girls RC, Holy Name Convent and St Mary’s College.

According to a media release from the Ministry, “At approximately 8.30 a.m. the delegation arrived at Newtown Boys’ RC School where the school’s principal (Ag) Ms Nicole Cheekes, led a tour of the school and ensured some of the students had the chance to meet and chat with the Education Ministers. The sister school, St Patrick’s Newtown Girls’ RC Primary was next…”

It stated the tour gave the ministers “a first-hand overview of the schools’ infrastructure, and the principals were engaged on operational issues”. A technical team from the Education Ministry provided information on planned upgrades “where applicable, and advised on other operational matters raised by teachers and principals”.

Children of the schools captured the most attention of the ministers who chatted with them about being back in physical school. The release reported that Minister Gadsby-Dolly challenged students to “always go the extra mile, be committed to excellence and turn up every day for school”. She told them “Education is your best chance, don’t give up.”

The Catholic News has reported concerns about the poor ventilation of the Infants’ department of Newtown Girls’. Six classes occupy a one-storey building with each class having approximately 27 students.

Classes are separated by board and cupboards. There are no windows, and the location of ventilation blocks makes the space humid and uncomfortable. Fans do not provide relief on hot days. The school has requested an air-conditioning system.

At the St Rose’s Girls RC, weakening of the eastern and northern perimeter walls to the library has been observed. An assessment by the facility officer relayed to the Catholic Education Board of Management (CEBM) is that the compressive strength of the concrete walls has been impacted by the clayey soil and underground water. Prolonged contact with water has caused calcium leaching of the concrete walls and deterioration of the aggregate.

The CEBM is seeking a volunteer structural engineer to advise on the state of the building and make recommendations for corrective action. There are more than 300 pupils attending the school.

The St Rose’s school is one of the oldest schools in Trinidad. It was founded in 1881 by Fr Marie Dominique Berthet OP.