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Students protest phasing out of St. John’s Secondary School

Students of St. John’s Secondary School protesting on the Den Amstel Public Road.

Students of St. John’s Secondary School on Wednesday protested on the West Coast Demerara Public Road to demand the construction of a new school rather than the phasing out of that institution altogether over the next two years,  two years after they were relocated to a community centre.

Police were summoned to deal with traffic congestion caused by the students who lined the Den Amstel Public Road to vent their frustration. A number of tires were placed in the middle of the road.

After inspectors found that the original school building at Cornelia Ida was unsafe because the roof was caving in, classes were shifted to the Den Amstel Community Centre.

Chairman of the Parent Teachers Association (PTA) Janette Grant told Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com) that the organization supported the protest. She said discussions have been held with the Chief Education Officer, Olato Sam and Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand but there has been no satisfactory outcome.

Grant said that Manickchand last month informed the PTA that the school would be phased out, a move that parents and students are vehemently opposed to.

The PTA has recommended that the roof of the school building at Cornelia Ida be taken down from the top flat and placed on the lower flat so that classes can resume there.  She lamented the poor teaching-learning conditions, including no place to post teaching aids and no laboratory facilities. She said the 213 students and 17 teachers have to contend with insufficient toilet facilities at the Den Amstel Community Centre.

“We don’t want them to phase out the school. Give us back our school,” she said.

Grant argued that if the school is phased out over the next two years, current and future students would be at a grave disadvantage because they would not benefit from the excellent remedial education being offered by the “interested, loving and caring” teachers at St. John’s Secondary for low performers.

“To move them and take them to another school, you will have drop-outs because the teachers wouldn’t want them,” she said.

She said the school has performed creditably at the Regional and National Science Fairs.