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Jan 19, 2012

Blackman Eddy’s passionate about education

The Ibo people of Nigeria coined the proverb that says “It takes a village to raise a child”. The villagers in Blackman Eddy are a perfect example of that proverb. Perhaps that is why a row has been developed between parents and the school administration. The situation is contentious but it is an example of the passion that both groups have for the education of the village’s children. News Five Delahnie Bain headed to Cayo and reports from the heart of Blackman Eddy.

Delahnie Bain, Reporting

There’s tension brewing at the St. Martin De Porres R.C. School in Blackman Eddy Village where parents and the principal are bucking heads.  The main concern is over the financial report for the 2010-2011 school year, in which the parents say exorbitant amounts were spent on transportation and maintenance.  But the Principal, Alfred Serrano says there are many factors that contributed to costs.

Alfred Serrano

Alfred Serrano, St. Martin De Porres R.C. School, Blackman Eddy Village

“The school does not own a vehicle and so therefore, for example, transportation of textbooks. The ministry gives textbooks to schools and it’s the responsibility of the institution to find transportation in many occasions to get those books to the school. We are located in Blackman Eddy Village and we get the books out of Santa Elena. Secondly, when I took over in 2010, we got a donation from an organization and that donation included some furniture—the ones I’m sitting on right now were donated and I had to get those furniture transported from Belmopan which is also an additional cost, which is factored into that particular figure in query. When I took over this institution, we had a heavy infestation of termites on the building. So what I had to do, I had to get an exterminator to come in and treat the building. And we all know that whenever you treat a building—and when you look at this school, the size of this school, there is a cost to it.”

Shirley Mai

Concerned parent, Shirley Mai, also claims that school fees were increased without their knowledge, but Serrano says the fees were actually reduced.

Shirley Mai, Concerned Parent

“Den ih raise di school fee because di school fee dah mi twenty-five dollars. When we come pay di school fee ih tell we seh dat dah fifty dollars. So he just raise it without—den ih noh call meeting. We have to like di force he. Ih call meeting but like class, class; ih noh  want call di meeting wid all di parents dehn together.”

Alfred Serrano

“A lot of our parents have their children sponsored and at time the sponsors were only paying the twenty-five dollars [registration] but the rest of the money which worked out to about forty-two dollars, the parents had to find and so what we decided was that we would put all the fees together as one and we would just refer to one thing as registration to cover all of the fees. That way the sponsors were willing to cover the fees.  So in effect, the school fees did not go up, but it came down. This is one of the few institutions that can boast that instead taking up the fees, we actually brought it down by approximately nineteen dollars.”

There were also complaints about a cafeteria that was donated to the school last year, but has not been used.

Shirley Mai

“Di cafeteria, dah cafeteria donated by Spanish Lookout community. He tek di refridge out ah di cafeteria and he put it eena di classroom weh he di sell fi he ideal and thing out deh pan and he noh want somebody get access to the cafeteria. Dis dah nonsense.”

Alfred Serrano

“That cafeteria in question was handed over incomplete. For example, there was no water in it, also within—it was handed already infested with termites even though I have given concern that the building needs to be treated. And so with reference to renting that building, we couldn’t rent that building to anybody in the condition that it was in.  The refrigerator is the property of St. Martin De Porres RC School and we use it to store ideals for sale to students, we have juices in there for sale to student and we also have water in there for sale to students and for staff use.”

Delahnie Bain

“The profits from the sale of these items go back to the school?”

Alfred Serrano

“Yes, those profits come back to the school to assist in the operation of the institution.”

Meanwhile, the former PTA President, William Robateau, alleges that the association was dissolved when he started questioning Serrano’s practices.

William Robateau, Concerned Parent

William Robateau

“I had been the president of the PTA for last year and when the principal called a meeting, he present this financial thing and when I question some of the things—he put some of the things to me and when I question some of the things, he said I’m just questioning the small things. But I seh principal, we are the parents and we are the ones that are running the school. I seh and you have some things here that are very questionable and I would like you to answer some of these questions. Immediately he said the PTA automatically null and void. Immediately he dissolved the PTA and up to now we don’t have a PTA.”

Alfred Serrano

“I would like to state categorically that as principal, I do not have the authority to dissolve any PTA. What happened is that the term of the PTA came to an end. And so when the term came to an end, automatically, as per regulations the PTA has to be dissolved and a new PTA elected. And so Mr. Robateau’s allegations are false, they’re baseless.”

But there is also a personal problem for Mai, whose son has been suspended. She claims it’s because he threw paper at another student, but Principal Serrano says he actually kicked another student in the face.

Shirley Mai

“How he wah mek wah ten year old lee bwai come out ah school? So I bring unnu yah today because I want Minister Faber know bout dis because he seh pan di media dat kids should stay in school, but di principal di tell me no; he di put out di kids. Den ih seh how me gone on unacceptable eena di class. I tell ah because dis dah like nonsense, yoh di pull me off ah mi job fi lone fool.”

According to Serrano, Mai has refused to deal with her child’s behavioral problems, but she has been invited to a meeting with the Ministry of Education, the Zone beat liaison officer and the Catholic management. Delahnie Bain for News Five.

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2 Responses for “Blackman Eddy’s passionate about education”

  1. Anonymous says:

    For records sake, be informed and infor the public that Mr Serano, Blackman Eddy’s Present Principal is actually Mrs. Bernadine Avila Son-In-Law. He was never and had never been a teacher before amd was just placed there last year as the principal of which he has no experience. he is not even a qualified teacher on Primary Education.
    preference do exist and this is an example of a strong one!!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    For Records sake, be informed and inform the public that Mr Serano the current Principal of Blackman Eddy’s School is the Son-In-Law of the Assistant Local Manager, Mrs. Bernadine Avila.
    Mr Serano has never been a teacher, less a Principal in his life.
    He was just assigned the Post at the school last year by his Mother-in-Law.
    Mr Serano is not even a qualified teacher in the field of Primary Education.
    This is showing Preference for family instead of qualified teachers that should be in place.
    kindly invetigate more on this matter since the managers tend to put aside and tend to forget because of convinience.
    thank you!!

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