By Kingsley Emmanuel
PRESIDENT of the Parent Teachers Association (PTA) of the Augier Combined School, Christa Henry St. Jour has criticized the delayed re-opening of the school by a week, claiming that the Ministry of Education had ample time to clean the building for its re-opening this week.
The school was forced to close a few weeks before the Easter vacation after it became infested with flies, coupled with a stench from nearby chicken farms that have been a source of great annoyance to teachers and students for several years.
As a result, the pupils were relocated to two locations in the community, the Augier Evangelical Church and the Parish Centre. The school, where a number of students are asthmatic is expected to be reopened on Monday, after the cleaning of its compound, currently underway, is completed.
“This is unacceptable. They (Ministry) had enough time to clean the school for its reopening this week. The school has been closed for too long,” St Jour said.
She said parents were very unhappy with the situation and want to see the Ministry of Education show more concern for the welfare of the students.
“Everybody is upset, frustrated and agitated…” she said
St. Jour said if the health environment of the school is not improved sooner rather than later, some parents will transfer their children to other schools. This, she hoped, will not happen.
“The Augier Combined School has produced outstanding students. It is the only public building in the community apart from the Catholic Church. If it is closed the community will be dead,” she said.
St. Jour said the PTA will continue to apply pressure on the government until the problem is addressed.
“We will not back down. We have to let the Ministry know how we feel about the situation,” she said.
Last week the District Education Officer of District 6, Peter Joseph told The Voice that at the moment an extension officer of the Ministry of Agriculture is posted on the chicken farms to ensure that the necessary measures are put in place to ensure that the flies and stench coming from the farms do not affect the school. He said such measure is a short term one, adding that in the long term the farms will be relocated.
However, according to St. Jour, she was reliably informed by a parent who lives in the vicinity that the stench still exists.
According to St. Jour, the stench at the school has seriously affected her own children, one of whom still attends the school.
“My son was not asthmatic until he attended the Augier Combined School. I had to take him to the doctor several times for treatment,” she lamented.
A meeting between the PTA and government officials was scheduled for yesterday and St. Jour was hoping something positive comes out of it.