Parents of students of the Longdenville Presbyterian Primary School are calling on the Presbyterian Board to build a proper school for their children.
On Friday morning, the parents protested in front of the Jerningham Community Centre in Cunupia, where their children have been housed for over five years.
Secretary of the PTA Karen Clement said parents have tried to meet with the board and the Ministry of Education, but have been unsuccessful so far.
She said they had to resort to protests to get the attention of the authorities to secure their children’s future. Friday is not the first time they have protested, and Clement explained similar action was taken last week.
“We are at the Jerningham Community Centre, in poor conditions. The children are in cramped spaces and there is poor ventilation, they can’t use the air conditioners and the windows cannot open.
“On no given day there was a full complement of children attending school. Some days there were 20 children, the first day of school there were 18 children. There were about 25 children, for the most, attending school,” Clement explained.
The school was an extension of the Longdenville Presbyterian Church, Main Road, Longdenville. During renovations, the 60 students were relocated to the nearby Longdenville Government Primary School and the Jerningham Community Centre y.
Clement said when the government primary school became crowded, the Presbyterian students there were moved to the community centre.
At present there are about 101 students, teachers, and auxiliary staff at the community center, which was thus taken away from the community, which also needed a space for its events, she said.
This was of grave concern, Clement complained, since teachers cannot move forward with the syllabus because there just were no children to teach.
“A teacher cannot teach a class with just a few children. The children’s education is being left behind because no new topics are being taught. The most they get is revision exercises,” she said.
Additionally, Clement said the cost of getting to and from the community centre had almost doubled for most parents. She said the ministry promised school buses, but they were yet to receive this support.
“We are there five years now and we never had any transportation from the ministry. So parents have to put out an additional cost to hire a bus or taxi, and some parents have more than two children attending the school, making covering transportation costs tough.”
Clement told Newsday that because of the situation her children, who are in standards one and four, have had to enrol in private tuition because the syllabus was not being taught.
While she has not formally pulled her children out of the public school system, she said she had to seek private online schooling, especially for her older child, who was preparing for the SEA exam next year.
“I registered them for private lessons, and it has been an extra cost. I pay $85 for the younger one and $125 weekly for the older child.
“Unfortunately, this is what parents have been doing to ensure their children have an education.
“I am not sending them in those conditions, especially reports of increased covid19 cases. I could afford it – what about the parents who can’t?”
Newsday tried by phone calls and WhatsApp messages to reach Moderator of the Presbyterian Church the Rt Rev Joy Abdul-Mohan and Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, but has been unsuccessful so far.