Furniture shortage likely to hit Berbice schools again
Some teachers and students from Berbice schools will be without furniture when the September school term begins.
This was revealed by the Regional officials during a recent press conference in the Region 6 Boardroom.
Region Six Education Officer, Mrs. Shafiran Bhajan, revealed that in February, a regional inventory was carried out as requested by Minister Priya Manickchand.
She said that the current allocation for furniture in Region Six stands at $14M, but this sum is not enough, particularly for furniture for teaching staff.
The region is making 400 chairs for teachers this year, “but we need more tables for them and 400 might not be adequate and we need more type- A and C desks and benches”.
When asked how significant the shortfall will be, Bhajan said that she does not believe it will be a ‘crisis’. Provisions will be put in place to repair the broken furniture.
But when asked why there always seems to be a furniture shortage in Region Six, the officials said that students are destroying the desks and benches.
In light of this, Region 6 Chairman David Armogan appealed to parents to ensure that their children desist from damaging the furniture.
The officials said that the contractors are building strong furniture and the Works Department has been checking the items to ensure quality.
Bhajan placed the blame mainly on secondary schools students, particularly those who are about to leave school.
She urged that some system be put in place by head-teachers to repair broken furniture, even though the region is on a campaign to collect damaged furniture for repairs.
“We have got a lot of furniture that has been destroyed by the school system”, she revealed.
Deputy Regional Executive Officer, Imran Ally, stated too that teachers and school administrators “often give up on the levels of supervision” especially when the school term is nearly over.
“The annual budget estimates always go towards replacing what we would have had.
It seems as if you are not making any advances in terms of actually maintaining your quantum of furniture”, he stated.
He recommended that there be a closer collaboration between the school, education department and RDC “because the government can’t keep investing in furniture and then we are having the irresponsible behaviour, not only on behalf of students, but also in terms of lack of supervision where head-teachers and teachers generally need to do more.”
During a recent visit to two classrooms at the Tagore Memorial Secondary School at Number 64 Village, Corentyne, Kaieteur News observed several pieces of broken and destroyed furniture. The chalkboards in the filthy- looking classrooms were also destroyed.
Bhajan added that the clarion call by the Minister and Chief Education Officer is for Region 6 to emulate other regions, particularly in curbing absenteeism and lateness among teaching staff.
Bhajan said that “for the first time in Region 6”, teachers are being disciplined by the Teaching Service Commission. Some are being transferred while others are being put on immediate suspension for attendance and punctuality issues. “This is the way other regions have been going– not to perpetrate sloth in the system.”
She also bemoaned the shortage of Schools Welfare Officers (SWO’s), but pledged that this will be rectified.