Lack of housekeeping at schools partly due to funding issues, minister says
The lack of proper housekeeping and maintenance at multiple public schools on New Providence are due in part to funding issues, Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd said yesterday.
Lloyd was responding to comments from Department of Environmental Health Public Analyst Anthony Ryan, who said that poor housekeeping is primarily the cause of a number of public health concerns at some government schools.
Lloyd said proper housekeeping and maintenance has been a problem for the ministry.
He said it is an issue of money and it deserves to be addressed and “consequently is being addressed by the Ministry of Education”.
“The reality is that we do not have enough time during the summer, which is only about eight weeks, to adequately and properly address the maintenance and repair needs of our school system,” he said.
“We have to… institute a regime, a culture of ongoing maintenance in our physical plans, which is what we are doing.
“This naturally requires a little more training and a devolution of responsibility to the various superintendents of districts, and principals to assume greater responsibility, management and leadership over the maintenance of the schools.”
He added, “There has to be a devolution of those responsibilities so that when minor circumstances arise requiring repairs, administrators and superintendents can be empowered, not only with the decision making authority, but also with the financial support to execute those needed repairs.”
The Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) has raised concerns over mold and working conditions in some public schools.
Last month, a reported mold infestation at C.W. Sawyer Primary School led to the temporary closure of the school.
In December, the BUT took a strike vote over the “substandard conditions” at C.H. Reeves Junior High School after teachers raised concerns about mold and water leakages in classrooms, termite and rat infestations and non-functioning bathrooms, among other issues.
Upon returning to the school for the start of a new term in January, however, the teachers opted not to strike.
Earlier this year, parents, teachers and students demonstrated over poor conditions at Black Point All-Age School in Exuma.
Lloyd indicated that the concerns were being addressed.
On Wednesday, Ryan admitted that his office has “fallen off” with regard to housekeeping at some schools.
Ryan said the Department of Environmental Health is supposed to regularly and randomly test public and private buildings to determine environmental health quality.
However, he indicated that a lack of sufficient trained inspectors has made it difficult to keep up with the schedule when crises emerge.
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish