Harbour Island pupils protest about school conditions

By Syann Thompson

sthompson@tribunemedia.net

CHANTING “power to the people,” students of Harbour Island All Age School protested yesterday due to a lack of teachers and conditions at the school.

A video circulating on social media shows a group of students protesting at the dock in Harbour Island with placards that read, “Fix Our School” and “There’s No Teachers”.

One female student said, “I am a student of Harbour Island All Age School…We need to fix our school, we should have sufficient teachers, we should have a clean school and the environment should be clean. Where Harbour Island is going is not the way it’s supposed to be, it’s 2020. We may have free education, but it’s the way free education is going and it’s a disgrace.”

Another female student said, “We have a future and y’all ain’t doing nothing about it. We need help.”

The Tribune spoke with Director of Education Marcellus Taylor who admitted that the Ministry of Education has had difficulty finding teachers to be permanently stationed at the Harbour Island school, which has over 300 students.

However, he said officials have been working to secure teachers for that island. “We do have a challenge with providing one or two teachers for the school. They require a language arts teacher, a multi-teaching person who teaches two grade levels at the same time. We have made every effort to find teachers. We had someone go there and last minute and it didn’t work out. So we are still trying to find a teacher. So we are still working on providing teachers for the school.”

He added, “It has been difficult because people do not want to go the Family Island to teach. The cost of living there is high, in particular the cost of living in Harbour Island turns people off. We found a teacher and they saw the cost of a small apartment and it was too high. We may have to go to a virtual solution in the case of Harbour Island, but now we are still trying to find a person to go there.”

Mr Taylor said that he is not aware of the actual conditions and would have to speak with the principal. However, he said that rebuilding and renovations of schools is a priority for the ministry. Mr Taylor said, “The environment I cannot speak on, I have not been there myself and have to speak directly with principal. Architect drawings of a new school is in the works, but with every with everything that Dorian left, we cannot say exactly when. Renovations and upgrades for the school has been talked about for some time.”