Minister of Education Senator Nigel Carty confirmed that there have been some concerns expressed by the school “and we want to ensure that we (will) work assiduously as possible with all the agencies within the government to address anything in the school that may be a cause or that may be a factor in some of these things.”
Carty explained that the Ministry of Education along with the Ministry of Health have been working together to ensure the health, security and safety of teachers, students and visitors of the Basseterre High School (BHS).
He said both ministries are working closely to address the concerns being raised by the school.
Minister of Health, Marcella Liburd stated that her Ministry will work tirelessly to ensure the health of all stakeholders of the school, adding that they are prepared to play their part in ensuring that the environment is a healthy environment for all those who use these premises.
In 2012, because of the severity of the problem, teachers took strike action and it was only after joint discussions that formulated recommendations that were agreed to by both sides, that some resumption did eventually take place. However, classes had to be relocated to the nearby Old Girl School and the Warner Park Cricket Stadium. Students also had to be placed on a shift system due to the lack of facilities. Many of the students taking science subjects had to be accommodated at the labs at the Washington Archibald High School, not too far away from the BHS campus.
In seeking to rectify the problems, Senator Carty said a carefully targeted programme of intervention has been developed to address the concerns and a team of local experts has been put together, headed by Dr. Milton Whitaker and supported by the Ministry of Health.
Carty reminded that when research was conducted by the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) in November 2012, results indicated that there was a mold problem in the Biology, Chemistry and Physics labs which normally occurs when a place is closed for a long period of time.
“The Biology lab had been closed for in excess of a year,” the Minister explained. “It was full of dust and mold and other life forms which is consistent of a building being closed for an extensive period of time. The chemistry and physics labs were in a similar condition. They had been unoccupied at the time and there was an infestation of mold and dust and other things that come with that environment.”
Minister Carty further explained additionally that CARIRI also tested for a number of gasses and inorganic substances which revealed that these were not a problem.
“Now if there is a basis for us to look at those things again we will look at them…We would want to see if we can narrow down the issues that there may be at this school.”
All this is coming, despite extensive renovation work that was recently carried out by the government.