Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on January 16, 2016 at 12:05 pm
Relocation of studentsIn light of protest by parents of students attached to the Christianburg Wismar Secondary School (CWSS) at Linden, over their children being relocated owing to suspicions of asbestos at the school, Regional Education Officer (REDO) of Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) Ravendra Singh has indicated that the Department of Education is working along with the Education Ministry in ensuring that students are in school.Christianburg Wismar Secondary School (CWSS) at LindenIn a brief comment to Guyana Times on Tuesday, Singh said he could not confirm nor deny if asbestos was indeed inside the school, but that he was made to understand that there was a process of removal in 2001 or 2002. While he related that he cannot say for sure if there was asbestos at the school presently, he said the Department is working along with information from the Central Ministry. Some parents of students attached to the school on Monday protested the relocation of their children by officials, in light of the allegations.According to the protesting parents, a decision was taken to relocate the students to the Wisburg Secondary school in Linden, following an “emergency” meeting between parents and officials attached to the Department of Education last Friday. The parents, who stood outside the school’s gate along with their children had noted that they are against a decision for their children to attend school from 12:00 to 17:00h. The parents had made calls for the issue to receive urgent attention from the Education Ministry, as they alleged that though there was some arrangement for buses to take the students to school, the specifics are unclear, and they are uncertain of the arrangement. According to a parent, a lot of parents did not turn up to last Friday’s meeting since it was school sports as they pointed out that officials should have called another meeting at the school on Monday to further update parents. They further noted that they were told by officials that the arrangement will be in place until January 2019.Some the parents protesting on MondayMunicipal Councillor Fern Mckoy who was on the scene of the protest on Monday confirmed that there was a meeting on Friday where it was noted that asbestos was in the school; however, she said the asbestos had been removed from the school since 2001. Mckoy noted that she had worked along with the contractor at the time in having it removed. “It cost millions of dollars to remove the asbestos from the school,” she noted. Efforts to contact the Regional Education Officer in relation to the issue on Monday proved futile.Other officials when contacted noted that they were not authorised to speak to the media. Shortly after the Region 10 administration had said that asbestos had been discovered in the ceiling of the school prior to its reopening back in August, the Education Ministry had refuted the claims. Regional Chairman Renis Morian had noted at the time that officials had received reports from parents while conducting checks on the school’s readiness for reopening, as the asbestos had been discovered in the ceiling of the school by contractors who were conducting repairs.The Regional Chairman further related that officials are aware that in 2001 and 2002, a contract was handed out for the removal of asbestos from inside the school. However, he noted that it appeared as though some had been hidden, given the way asbestos had been placed. Nevertheless, the Education Ministry said an inquiry into the matter had revealed that the information was brought to the attention of the Regional Executive Officer of Region 10 on August 15, 2018. According to the Ministry, an investigation was done, and it indicated that asbestos was not present in any part of the building. “This was ascertained by testing a sample of the material suspected to be asbestos found in the ceiling. Consequently, a request was made for the contractor to resume work on the building in an effort to have the building ready for use in the time allotted,” the Ministry had said. Guyana Times understands that the Regional Chairman had revisited the school sometime last week.The removal of asbestos must be done with great care due to the toxic properties of this substance. Asbestos removal is a very dangerous and expensive undertaking. Locally, very few companies have the capacity for proper removal of this hazardous substance.