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Jul 30, 2009

Progress bring problems for students of LA Democracia

Story PictureWhile most parents are getting their children ready for school, we found some on the Western Highway that are fighting to keep their village school. Residents of La Democracia tell News Five that the Ministry of Education wants to relocate the village school. News Five went out to the community where angry parents were less than candid about the proposed move. Marion Ali reports.

Marion Ali, Reporting
About forty concerned parents of students who attend the La Democracia Government Primary School held an impromptu meeting to discuss news they received today that the school will be transferred. The parents say they understand that the Ministry of Education’s intention is to relocate the school to Mahogany Heights, about a mile further up on the Western Highway.

Sheryl Coote, Vice Chairperson, La Democracia Village Council
“Dehn want tek fi we pickney from yah and send dehn up dha Mahogany Heights. And di group ah parents weh yoh si yah dah just di one dehn weh mi deh home weh could ah mi gather out inna di lee space ah time weh wi get di information. But dehn parents yah angry because we deh gainst dis thing yah weh dehn want move fi we pickney dehn and ker dah Mahogany Heights. Why? We get three new school building September fi fi we pickney dehn. We have right now I think almost, when school close about wah hundred and twenty-five students. Dehn want tek di lee bit weh we have and ker dehn cross dah Mahogany Heights.”

Marion Ali
“Do you support your child going to Mahogany Heights?”

Glenda Westby, Parent, La Democracia Village
“No, I don’t. My child is in standard four right now but I don’t support it because di same problem weh Mahogany heights have sending their children this side, dah di same problem we wah have.”

Marion Ali
“What problem is that?”

Glenda Westby
“Soemtimes you worry about di children’s safety and dah di same thing we wah worry bout because yoh have to find lunch and everything. Ih wah very costly too and den dis school dah wah old school. I dah noh from yah, I come live dah Democracia but from di time I deh yah di school deh yah and no problems so I noh si why. Dehn have their own school.”

Christopher Estrada, Parent, La Democracia Village
“I have two daughter fi di walk through di road fi go dah Mahogany Heights, dat dah wah problem because dat dah distance, plus deh dah girls. How dehn wah get dehn food when dehn could go dah wah school dah Democracia weh dehn live, eat wah hot plate ah food and come back dah school in time. Dat wah be wah problem fi you tek from here to there.”

Marion Ali
“What’s the distance?”

Christopher Estrada
“Well, approximately bout three miles.”

Ernestine Scott, Parent, La Democracia Village
“It’s just plain stupidity. Even though, if we ker our school over there or vice versa, we’ll be doing same things; taking our kids, wanting transport, wanting to know—we have mostly girls. What about our children? We already have the building here. The government said they would have provided a bus for us from Heights. They gave them a bus, it didn’t last long. So what will they do now when we ker our children over there? We won’t have bus only what two weeks also?”

The meeting also had in attendance the parents from Mahogany Heights and the one we spoke with also did not support the idea.

Vinneth White, Parent, Mahogany Heights
“Mahogany Heights become wah big population. If Mahogany Heights fi have dehn school, mek dehn have dehn school. If Democracia fi have dehn school, mek dehn have wah school because from Mahogany Heights to Democracia, fi we children punish cross deh. And right now di government want split the school. What about my child weh ten weh deh inna standard four and di one weh deh inna pre-school? Who wah tend to ah when one separate from di other one? And dat dah di problem weh we noh agree wid. So dat dah my biggest concern and right now I am not going to move my children from over this side.”

Principal of La Democracia Primary, Delmar Garcia says the split will have a negative effect, not only on the one hundred and fifty students who attend the institution, but also the six teachers.

Delmar Garcia, Principal
“The Ministry of Education is planning eventually on closing down this school. And I believe it’s very unfair to this community. This school was established from 1974 and for them just to come and close it down, it’s very unfair for our community, for our students.”

If this is the Ministry’s ultimate plan, then it will also impact the sponsorship that local school receive from abroad.

Anna Zabrowski, Facilitates Sponsorship to Local Schools
“We built the dining hall and we built the kitchen and we also donated a lot of that money went to—there were five laptops that were donated. So five laptops as well as just a lot of extra cash that was donated and they’ve used it to build the buildings. They’ve also used it to purchase school supplies, sports equipment, the playground, all of that.”

But according to the Ministry of Education’s Information Officer, Arlette Gomez, the plan is not to close down the school but instead, meet a compromise between the two communities.

Arlette Gomez, Information Officer, Ministry of Education
“There is a growing community in Mahogany heights and those people are agitating for a school and so we have tried to find a compromise. There is a school in La Democracia, which again is a multi-grade school, and maybe with the numbers of people that will be coming from Mahogany Heights, we can make that school a mono-grade school. We are proposing that we have two locations for the school at this time because we don’t want to disenfranchise anybody. We want to make sure that everybody gets a part of the education that we’re offering. So the proposal that we made when we met with the Mahogany Heights people was that we have a part of the school in La Democracia and a part in Mahogany Heights.”

But the parents are adamant about keeping their entire school in the village and they intend to make this clear to Education Minister, Patrick Faber at a meeting this weekend.

Marion Ali
“The Minister of Education has said it’s all in an effort to improve upon the current services.”

Sheryl Coote
“Okay, if he she dat how ih want improve, dis school building done deh yah already yoh know. If ih done deh yah already, you know di money weh ih wah tek fi go put up dis and put up dat. Ih put something eena dis school.”

Reporting for News Five, Marion Ali.

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