Latest update May 27th, 2023 12:27 AM
May 25, 2023 Letters
Kaieteur News – Permit me to express profound condolences firstly to the grieving parents and families of all the children who perished in the fire at Madhia Secondary School, and then to the nation for such a severe blow to their future. On hearing the news, I desperately struggled to grasp the magnitude of the tragedy, amidst inquietude and visibly failing mental fortitude. Notwithstanding, I have inwardly resolved that my say in this matter would markedly deviate from previously displayed patterns, where responses are usually sought to a plethora of –Whys? Hows? Whats? and Wherefores?. The lyrics of Whitney Houston’s 1985 song “Greatest Love of All ” now acts as a mournful dirge, for this tragedy although new is hauntingly “deja vu”, with the past juxtaposed to the present– burning linked with learning.
September 14, 2011 found early morning classes being suspended after an early morning fire ravaged a section of the four-story Wismar Christianburg Secondary School gutting the top flat, while there was severe water and other damage to classrooms on the second and third story and at least one teacher’s apartment in the bottom flat. Three men, armed with cutlasses, set fire to the One Mile Primary School at Wismar, Linden, on August 13, 2012 after breaking into the building and stealing computers. The building was completely destroyed. A mysterious fire on June 20, 2021 destroyed a section of the North Ruimveldt Multilateral School in Georgetown, which housed the school’s Grades Seven to Eleven classrooms, Science, Home-Economics and Information Technology laboratories, as well as the school’s $3 million ‘smart’ classroom, the first to be launched in Guyana in 2015. Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand described the fire as an “unspeakable loss”, and reassured students that the Education Ministry already had officers working to put systems in place immediately to ensure that their education was not interrupted.
The Mabaruma Secondary School, a two-story wooden and concrete building was completely destroyed by fire on September 24, 2021. It was reported that the blaze lasted over four hours. Investigations carried out by the Guyana Fire Service have revealed that the fire which severely damaged the Secondary School, resulted from an act of arson. July 21, 2022 is yet another date embedded in the annals of Guyana’s school fire history. A fire of unknown origin ravaged the St. George’s High School, leaving hundreds of students displaced. The cause of the fire was found to be electrical in origin. On January 13, 2023, fire gutted Christ Church Secondary School. The fire was the second to occur at the school, which is located at Camp and Middle Streets in Georgetown, in a week. Days after the fire, the Guyana Fire Service (GFS) determined that the fire was maliciously set by unknown persons.
Enshrined in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, –the right to an education included a call for free and compulsory elementary education. Advancing a step further, the Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulates that countries make higher education accessible to all. This is what Guyana undertook to provide education to the young Indigenous students aged 12 through 18. The fire which broke out around 10.50 p.m. at Mahdia Secondary School, a government boarding school serving remote, mostly Indigenous villages, raced through the dormitory killing at least 19 students mostly girls and injuring several others.
The school was of interest to the Guyanese government, having been built to “bridge the gaps between the hinterland and coastal areas.” As such, the school was at the center of Guyanese efforts to better education in less developed parts of the country.
When minor children are entrusted by parents to a school, the parents delegate to the school certain responsibilities for their children, and the school has certain liabilities. In “loco parentis” means that the school has a legal obligation to act in the best interests of the students while the student is enrolled there. Traditionally, the “in loco parentis” doctrine clothed the government with the same responsibility as a parent and exposed them to the same liability. for the child’s wellbeing. By extension, Boards of Education i.e. the government, are required to act in the same manner a reasonable and prudent parent would. The children attended school during the day , but were treated like prisoners during the night, with their egress being hindered and hampered by grilled doors and windows.
Now the fire has ebbed out, thanks to the work of the Mahdia Brigade and public-spirited citizens, the grills that covered the windows and doors remain as charred testimonies and proof that passing through them was impossible. Had private parents locked up their children in the same manner as these schoolchildren were, what would have been their punishment? Would the terms “child abuse” and/or parental neglect” not be tossed into the ensuing affray?
Captain Gerald Goveia, Guyana’s National Security Adviser, as well as opposition lawmaker Natasha Lewis openly announced that the government would try to find out exactly what happened. Even in the absence of school, and the requirement of no special tool, it is clear to see that the government should bear the blame for this national infamy, as a preliminary investigation of the root cause reveals it was no sabotage. Police Chief Clifton Hicken said “initial investigations suggest that it was maliciously set and while the girls’ dorm had five doors, iron grill work trapped the students inside.
Additionally, this national tragedy further forbodes that the Government of Guyana has been grossly negligent on the issue of building codes and safety regulations. Over the years, school fires have been accepted as the norm, but my sincere wish is that an effective change would follow this latest tragedy in the dorm or has our nation decided that the future of Guyana lies with its oil and not with its youth?
No contracts cast in stone, except Norton and Jagdeo own!
May 27, 2023Kaieteur News – Melbourne New York Alliance thrashed Empire Cricket Club by 139 runs in the third-round match of the 2023 New York National Cricket League 40-overs competition. Playing last...
May 27, 2023
May 27, 2023
May 27, 2023
May 26, 2023
May 26, 2023
Kaieteur News – The PPP/C is continuing from where it left off in 2015. It has proven that it is not interested in... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders Kaieteur News – The report on May 17, from the World Meteorological Organization, (WMO) that... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]