350 students along with faculty and staff are facing a crisis at the school in Pomona, Stann Creek. Rat bats and their guano, along with decaying buildings are just the top of the problems that face the teachers and students who are praying as well as begging for help. The situation is so dire that the Ministry of Health had closed down one of the classrooms. Dangriga Correspondent Harry Arzu spoke to two teachers, Emily Vera and Aaron Barrera about a protest that parents had staged at the institution.
Emily Vera, Teacher: “This morning some parents showed up and they decided that they were going to do a little protest. We had a turn out of approximately thirty parents and they decided that they were going to take their children with them to the little demonstration. As a parent they are free to do whatever they want with their children and yes we let them know that the teachers were going to be in the classroom and that we were going to have classes but in the longer run when the parents came by I only had four students in my classrooms so I just joined the demonstrations like what many teachers did because we want to support. We need help.”
Aaron Barrera, Teacher: “The ministry of health came and shut down one of our buildings over that side due to rat bat investigation and the roof being infested with woodlice. So it’s not safe for our kids and it’s the infant division building, infant one to standard one. Also this building here as well if you notice holes in the floor, the roof leaks when it rains.”
Reporter: How many classes does this building hold ?
Aaron Barrera, Teacher: “This building holds three classes, two standard four and one standard three. We have been seeking help, we have been asking around for assistance. We know that it is a Catholic school and we are supposed to get help from our managment as well as the Ministry but nothing seems to be getting done so the parents I guess were tired and fed up with what was going on because like I said we don’t have an infant division building so they have to share the class with other classes. So the parents they are fed up and we want to get help. Something like an estimation came out, we know that the building is going to cost maybe $50,000 to $60,000 to repair and we have this situation here where we are not getting help so the parents decided this morning that they are going to have their students leave the classroom so that we can get people’s attention so that is what they did. They asked if the students could go outside and leave thier classrooms and they went out there with thier charts. They did a short demonstration so that they could get people’s attention. That is what was done there and from there they said that if nothing will get done they are not going to send thier children to school.
Emily Vera, Teacher: Students at first they were outside under the trees in front of the church but because some of the teachers decided that we were going to share our classrooms so they decided to join the classes so we’ve been facing overcrowded classrooms and apart from that some teachers still go outside because of the noise and they can’t really send the message properly when they are teaching the students because the noise level. So what they have decided is that they were going to give up their classrooms so that they can share the classrooms but then it’s not only those teachers who are who are being affected that were taken out of the building, it’s 160 students that we are talking about – it’s a whole lot of them.”