By Jenelle Carter
Four days into the start of the new school term, there were scenes of confusion outside of the Stewartville Primary School as students, parents and members of the Parent-Teacher Association staged a massive protest over the sudden transfer of two teachers.
Speaking on the issue, Tracey Kumar, Chairperson of the School’s PTA board said the protest action was as a result of the Ministry transferring two teachers, one of whom would have eventually had the responsibility of preparing students for the upcoming National Grade Six Assessment.
The other teacher was in charge of Grade Three students.
Mrs. Kumar explained that one of the teachers was working with Grade Five students, and given the existing circumstances (the advanced state of pregnancy of the Grade Six teacher) it was expected that she would eventually go to the next level to facilitate a smooth transition in the important period leading up to the assessment.
To add insult to injury, this newspaper was informed that since the transfers, which took effect on Monday, the Grade Three and Grade Five students are left without teachers.
Kumar said the students have also expressed their frustration over the incident.
This was quite evident when this newspaper visited the school yesterday.
There was a claim that in one case, a total of 52 students are usually taught by one teacher and most of the time they are without a teacher. The students reiterated that they would like the return of their teacher.
When asked if any effort was made to contact the Ministry on the transfers, Kumar responded in the affirmative.
“We raised it (the issue) with the head teacher and she contacted the Ministry and they said nothing can be done,” Kumar said.
Sometime during the protest, several police ranks arrived at the school and proceeded to break the locks off the gate, but prevented anyone from entering the compound.
According to Kumar, the teacher who was transferred is a trained Primary School Teacher and has been placed at the Vergenoegen Community High School.
In relation to the Grade Three teacher, Kumar said that there is no replacement for her, and the teacher who is now left to deal with those students is pregnant, while her replacement is currently on maternity leave.
Meanwhile several other issues were raised by parents who also gathered at the school.
These include a leaking roof, the deplorable state of the sanitary blocks and no running water.
In the meantime, some one hour into the protest two officials from the Ministry of Education arrived on the scene. This sparked more chants from the students and parents.
The two officials used the rear entrance of the school with the protesters running behind them. One of the officials, a male, was seen entering the compound with a hammer in his hand.
Throughout all of this, the Head teacher of the school refused to comment on the issue as she clearly stated to the Parent-Teacher body that she will not be a part of the protest action.
Later in the day, the parents and teachers met with the Regional Education Officer (REO), Mrs. Merlyn Jones.
Following the meeting this newspaper was told that the Ministry has clearly stated that nothing can be done about the transfer of the teachers. The reason cited for the transfer by the Ministry is that the school is over staffed.
The REO also promised the parents and teachers that the other issues which were raised would be addressed before the end of the term.
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