Parents of pupils attending the Barrackpore East Secondary are raising money to fix their school, which was damaged by the 6.9 magnitude earthquake last month.
Each parent has been asked to pay $200 each by the school’s Parent/Teachers Association (PTA) to facilitate repairs to their school, which has remained closed since the August 21 earthquake.
In a WhatsApp group shared with the T&T Guardian, parents were advised to drop off the money at the school security office. However, one parent complained that when she went to drop off the money, the security guard told her he was not authorised to collect any money.
Parent Stacy Cochrane said the idea to raise the funds came following a meeting with the PTA.
“We were told that instead of waiting on the ministry to fix the school we should raise funds and do it ourselves. Right now it hard for me to find $200 to pay after I bought school books and uniforms.
“Every day my child asking me when school opening. If I have the money I will pay it because I want the school work to get done,” Cochrane said, adding parents wanted the school reopened as soon as possible.
Another parent, Keith Balkissoon, said he also could not afford to pay the $200.
“I am working taxi and I do not think parents should be made to pay for the school repairs. Why can’t the Government pay for it? Why are we paying taxes,” Balkissoon questioned.
Since the earthquake, the main stairway has been detached from the main block and cracks appeared on the ceiling and floor. Block B is also said to be in a state of disrepair.
Balkissoon called on the ministry to conduct repairs as soon as possible.
Contacted yesterday, however, a senior school source denied the principal was involved in the collection of the school repair donation.
“I am not authorised to speak to the media but this has nothing to do with the principal. This is an idea that the PTA came up with.”
Asked what checks and balances were put in place to ensure the money was used for school repairs, the official referred questions to the PTA.
A PTA executive member, who declined to give her name, said she was under no obligation to answer when asked whether the donations had the approval of the Education Ministry.
“You need to have the approval to raise funds in a school?” the member exclaimed.
She confirmed that the money was being collected for school repairs and people were getting receipts, but would not say who was collecting the money.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Minister in the Ministry of Education Dr Lovell Francis said the ministry was in charge of school repairs. However, he said there was nothing wrong if the PTA wanted to raise funds to assist the school.
“The PTA is within its authority to assist the school in any way. If the PTA is willing that is great, but it is not permissible for the school to be raising funds for school repairs because it is the Ministry of Education that is in charge of school repairs,” Francis said.
He added that the Ministry of Works and the Occupational Safety and Health Authority will be visiting the school today to do an inspection.