Students of the Fort Ordnance Primary School, East Canje, Berbice returned to school today, Tuesday, to a much improved environment.
The resumption follows works to fix the problems which existed and caused the indefinite closure of the school by Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine.
Minister of Education Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine
On an impromptu visit to the school which serves the Sheet Anchor – Fort Ordnance areas, on the re-opening of school for the new school term, the minister recognised that works which had begun some two months earlier to transform the school into an emergency (disaster relief) shelter, were still incomplete.
Among the perceived threats to students’ safety were the presence of discarded builder’s waste, and construction workers still at work. This prompted the minister’s call to the Chief Education Officer, acting, Marcel Hutson.
“The minister visited and he called me and he said he didn’t like what was happening and we collectively decided in the best interest of our children to close the school,” Hutson told the Government Information Agency.
Further, Hutson said, “I can tell you I had dialogue with two contractors and they have assured me that by Saturday they would have been able to complete their works and therefore schools would have been able to re-open on Tuesday.”
Hutson in addressing the concerns raised by parents about the number of instructional sessions lost by students, said arrangements have been made to ensure that the term’s syllabus is delivered to students.
“The Regional Education Officer (REDO) met with staff members of the school and they have decided that they will work some extra time to make up for time lost and that’s good gesture on the part of the teachers,” Hutson pointed out.
The Civil Defence Commission (CDC) with funding from the Canadian Government undertook a project to retrofit and equip the Fort Ordnance Primary School for it to be used as shelter during times of flood and other disasters.
Chief Education Officer (acting) Ministry of Education, Marcel Hutson
The project was intended to bring relief to the more 700 residents of the Fort Ordinance community which is frequently affected by excessive flooding owing to heavy rainfall and high tides.
The project will see the Fort Ordinance Primary School compound being raised, the current sanitary block expanded to include baths and additional toilets, gutters and drains installed to improve drainage, walkway expanded to accommodate vehicles and ramps installed to accommodate wheelchairs, rehabilitation of the Home Economics Department and installation of equipment inclusive of h a refrigerator, microwaves, gas stoves, sinks and counters for feeding purposes when the shelter becomes operational.
The project sum of CAD$99,023 comes from the Canada Caribbean Disaster Risk Management Fund and forms part of Canada’s CAD$600M Caribbean Regional Programme.
The Fund is designed to support non-governmental organisations, community groups and government agencies within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to execute small-scale community projects. These are expected to reduce risks of natural disasters such as floods, droughts, storms and hurricanes.