President of the Guyana Teachers’ Union, Colwyn King, has expressed frustration at what he called blatant irregularities and financial misappropriation by a section of the Board of Directors and the management of President’s College.
The main bone of contention is the illegal removal of the previous president of the institution’s parent-teacher association, Dr. Simpson Da Silva, and the subsequent manipulation of two European-funded projects which Da Silva had initiated.
The GTU President noted that, despite several discussions with the Minister of Education on the matters, there appears to be a tacit compliance with what is taking place at one of Guyana’s live-in secondary institutions.
According to King, the discrepancies stemmed from the management style of the Chairman of the Board of Directors, David De Groot, who he said is not suited to be at the helm of the college.
“President’s College is being run like a kitchen garden,” stated King, who is also a member of the college’s board of directors.
He pointed out that the cost per child at President’s College is a whopping $362,000, compared with $60,000 at other institutions.
This, he said, was acknowledged by the administration as an undesirable position.
In the past, President’s College was touted as a self-sufficient institution with a vibrant agriculture and poultry drive. Today, this is not the case.
“The chicken farm is run down, and the college is buying eggs. Beef production has gone down, pork production has gone down, and the broiler production had gone down,” King disclosed.
He explained that the college is actually purchasing greens at twice the price on the local market, effectively inflating the budgetary allocation. According to King,
several attempts to get the board to address the situation have been unsuccessful.
This led to the new Parent-Teacher Association moving ahead to alleviate the situation under the leadership of Dr. Simpson Da Silva.
The PTA began by addressing the issue of the school canteen, which was in a state of disarray, with the accounts showing astronomical irregularities.
There has been no financial statement from the PTA for the previous seven years.
“With some work from the PTA, we were able to recover $234,000 lying in a paper bag in someone’s home,” King told the media.
Following this success, the PTA moved on and submitted a series of proposals to make the institution better.
Among the initiatives was the securing of grants from the European Union to facilitate an Information Technology programme and an agriculture drive.
This newspaper understands that, under EU-funded programmes, Da Silva would have been the coordinator and would have been paid a salary of more than $200,000, which was approved by the EU.
This led to the summoning of an impromptu PTA meeting with the main aim of removing Da Silva from the head of the body, on September 28.
“It was brought to my attention that there is collusion with the Ministry of Education to remove the man. The executive met and decided to move a man for no confidence, without even inviting the man; remove the guy, install another person in his position and went ahead with business as normal,” the GTU President told the media.
According to King, what has brought about the major bone of contention are the two projects initiated by Dr. Da Silva.
“These projects were the brainchild of Mr. Simpson; they were works put together by Mr. Simpson. One was for the board — that’s the poultry project — and the other was to be run by the PTA — that’s the IT project.”
King stated that when the board recognised the amount of money that Dr. Da Silva would have been paid, they approached him and requested that he divide the money among them.
The GTU President stated that when Dr. Da Silva refused, he was deemed to be a thief, and an investigation was launched.
But the investigation found nothing incriminating against Dr. Da Silva.
According to King, the chairman of the school board then went ahead and wrote to the European Union, requesting that a hold be put on the projects until a new PTA head is selected.
Kaieteur News understands that the company owned by the newly selected chairman is contracted to do repairs to the grill work and windows, while the greens supplier has been given the contract to fix the ceiling and floor.
The chairman’s son has also been given the contract to supply computers under the EU-funded project, while the chairman himself is now the coordinator.
In addition, King said, the school principal had stated at a meeting that she is responsible for funds collected on behalf of the PTA, which he said is contrary to the policy of the Ministry of Education.
“And the ministry, to date, has done nothing about it. Mr De Groot also stated at that meeting that, as Board Chairman, he is continuous. There is no board meeting at President’s College, and it’s really a one-man show,” King claimed.
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