Sit-in at Carlton Francis Primary
Teachers at Carlton Francis Primary School staged a sit-in yesterday over issues that included a “severe shortage of teachers” and a lack of adequate furniture for students.
Several teachers, who spoke to The Nassau Guardian on condition of anonymity, said some students are forced to stand or sit on the floor in classrooms because of a lack of chairs.
They also claimed that teachers in grades one and two have to move between classrooms because there are not enough instructors.
As the teachers stood behind the school gates, a group of about 20 parents stood on the other side demanding that the Ministry of Education address the concerns.
Other issues include a poor drainage system, mold in the classrooms, a leaking roof and the lack of a pedestrian crossing, the teachers and parents claimed.
Morgan Brooks, whose child is in the first grade at the school, said the lack of furniture at the start of the school year is inexcusable.
“Tell the minister (of education) to bring his chair from his office for my child to sit in,” she said. “Bring his desk from his office for my child to sit at.
“Instead of focusing on cutting my teachers’ [salaries], let’s cut his salary for our roof because it is leaking… Bring us some furniture. Some of the children don’t even have a desk to sit at. We need action and we need it now.”
Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald said the ministry recently received cabinet approval for the purchase of about $800,000 worth of furniture.
“From time to time we do have these issues that unfortunately schools have to deal with,” he said.
“It’s not to the point where we feel like it will impact the level of education…But we should have those matters addressed throughout the country.”
As it relates to any other issues the teachers may have, Fitzgerald said he has asked Director of Education Lionel Sands to go to the school and meet with them.
“I want to get a full report before I make any determination,” he said.
Parent Teacher Association (PTA) President Sharmaine Adderley said the problems at the school have been simmering for years.
“We’ve gotten promises year after year,” Adderley said. “That’s why we haven’t said anything.
“This is the first three weeks of school and we find teacher shortages through the roof, teachers having to be taken to hospital for high blood pressure; we have to do something about it.
“Our teachers are standing here because they want to teach. This is not a lazy staff. These are workers. These are good teachers. So we are asking for them to step forward and get these things done. Bring in the people.”
One angry father stormed on campus and brought out broken pastic chairs he claimed that second graders are forced to sit in. He placed the chairs in the middle of the road.
Shantell Mackey, who has two children who attend the school, noted the possibility of injuries that those chairs pose to the children.
“You see those prongs sticking out,” she said, pointing at the broken chairs. “Can you imagine what type of injury a child can get?
“I really want the ministry to come and deal with issues that are happening with this school.”
Shelly Anderson, who has a son in grade two, said it seems as if her child is only being entertained at school.
Anderson said she has yet to see evidence that he is learning anything.
“Every day I pick him up from school and I ask him, ‘what did you do in school’ or I look in his book and there is nothing. He says ‘mommy they take me into the library and we watch movies’.”
The school has just over 1,000 students and 46 teachers.
The sit-in follows similar action at Stephen Dillet and Uriah McPhee primary schools this week over conditions at those institutions.