105 students without classrooms

BY TANESHA MUNDLE
Observer staff reporter
mundlet@jamaicaobserver.comc

Monday, August 21, 2017

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WITH less than two weeks to go before the official start of the new school year, a little over 100 new students at Dinthill Technical High School in St Catherine are without classrooms and may have to be temporarily housed in a tent.

The school's Vice-principal Monica White told the Jamaica Observer during a visit to the school last Thursday that the school has about 105 excess students and there are no classrooms to accomodate them.

According to the vice-principal, the list of students who were pulled from GSAT (Grade Six Achievement Test), APS programme (Alternative Pathways to Secondary Education) and GNAT (Grade Nine Achievement Test) was sent to the school a week ago, even after the school had submitted to the Ministry of Education the number of spaces available for GSAT students.

“Additionally, we have some coming in at grade eight and nine and I think that is what is making it so overwhelming at this time, because we never used to have grade eight students coming in to us, but this year we have a full class,” she said.

“Right now, I am not even sure how we are going to be making it out because it's all so painful to tell parents that their children won't be in school,” White said, while adding that the school will need about three classrooms to house the new batch of students.

The vice-principal stressed that space is very limited at the school because although there should really be 20 students in a class, they are housing up to 50.

But in the interim, she said since it will be impossible to erect those needed classrooms before school reopens, the short-term plan is to acquire some trailers and retrofit them.

However, White said the school has already contacted the ministry and has been informed that they will send an engineer to look into the matter.

At the same time, she said, “We are frantically calling, looking and begging, and are appealing to anybody out there who can assist us in getting these classrooms up and running as soon as possible. We need about 12 trailers to retrofit and that will be able to give three or four classrooms.”

Further to that, the vice-principal said the school will require an additional eight teachers, but indicated that the ministry was aware of the need and she is confident that they will ensure the teachers are supplied.

“We are believing in the ministry that they are going to help us and we are hoping that it will be positive because while we want all our children to be educated, we want them to be educated under the best situation we can afford to offer,” she said.

Newly appointed board chairman, Queen's Counsel Valerie Neita-Robertson, expressed similar sentiments but said that the school is trying to come up with a quick solution.

“We are terribly out of classrooms but we are trying to help ourselves, so we are seeking to obtain containers to retrofit them and to erect them. In meantime, one entire classroom is without a class so we think we will have to house them in a tent temporarily,” she said.

“We have the chairs and the desks because the Engineering Department has done a fantastic job of redoing damaged desks and chairs; they really have done an excellent job, but we have a classroom problem,” she added.

She said if the school manages to get the containers, they should be OK for now, but the ultimate plan is really to build more classrooms as there is more than enough land space at the school, which is situated on more then 100 acres.

When contacted, Education Minister Senator Ruel Reid said he was not aware of the situation and will have to do an investigation.

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