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Faulty AC unit forces teachers to walk off job at Sando school

Published: 
Thursday, September 14, 2017

Disgruntled parents attempted to block teachers of the Princes Town East Secondary School from leaving students unsupervised yesterday morning, as they walked off the job because of a malfunctioning air-conditioning system.

“Who going to supervise we children?” protested the parents, who eventually stepped aside and allowed the teachers to leave.

Some 50 teachers, every day since the new school term opened, have been reporting for duty but leaving early because of the situation as they claim it is affecting their health.

One of the students was suspended after he took to Facebook to call on the Education Ministry to fix the issues at his school.

However, T&T Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) president Lynsley Doodhai and Parent Teachers Association president Patricia Drakes did not want to comment on the child’s suspension yesterday. Doodhai said he had to first speak with the principal while Drakes said they had not discussed the matter.

Doodhai said for more than five years the school has been plagued with problems with the air-conditioning system. He said the ministry failed to repair the system, which stopped working two weeks before the school term was closed for the August vacation.

“Last week teachers alerted us to the fact they have begun to experience some medical conditions such as headaches, itchy eyes, soar throats and skin irritation,” said Doodhai, who had in his possession a folder with medical reports for about 12 to 15 teachers.

Calling on Education Minister Anthony Garcia to have the problem rectified, Doodhai said, “It is really a travesty that the students of this school continue to suffer and they are essentially being deprived of an education by the inability of the Ministry of Education to rectify the problems.”

He said the teachers will attend school daily, but if the problem remains unfixed they will sign the attendance register and leave. Doodhai said the school, which is plagued with other problems, was not in a state of readiness when it was opened in July 2015 by the previous administration.

Drakes said two weeks before school was reopened they raised the issue with Garcia and Minister Lovell Francis at the ministry.

National PTA trustee Clarence Mendoza said a similar issue occurred at the Couva North Secondary School and 510 AC units were installed in the classrooms. He said another issue at the school was there were only two toilets for 500 students.

Attempts to reach the ministry’s corporate communication officials for a comment were unsuccessful yesterday.