A petition to get the island’s only secondary school on the budget has been started.
Following a meeting of the Montserrat Secondary School Parent Teacher Association on Thursday, May 16, parents and teachers learned that renovating or replacing two of the largest buildings on the compound was not a priority in the new budget.
On Wednesday, the Minister of Finance, Premier Donaldson Romeo gave the budget speech for the 2019/20 fiscal year and despite the urgency at which the two buildings were condemned for use by the school in September 2018, repairing them has not been included in the new budget cycle.
The petition started by Lyston Skerritt of Skerritt’s Educational Consultancy seeks to gain at least 500 signatures, which is to be shared with the current government.
“The implications of the unacceptable work and educational conditions cannot be ignored and the implications have far reaching effects for Montserrat’s future,” the petition read. “Educational development needs to become more of a priority of any elected official or political aspirant.”
At the presentation DFID reports were cited from 2010 (https://www.gov.uk/dfid-research-outputs/development-proposals-for-lookout-primary-school-brades-primary-school-montserrat-secondary-school-2008-mnt-09 outlining the inadequacy of the location.
Teachers and students have been under pressure in the last school year to work in a compressed environment, with eight less classrooms to work in. This included a loss of a chemistry and biology lab. Lessons have been held under a tent and in wooden buildings with some spill over to the community college nearby.
As the budget is still under discussion, with the debate to begin on Monday, May 20, Skerritt believes the budget allocation can still be changed in the Committee Phase.
The petition has already gained more than 280 signatures and hopes to reach its goal before the end of the weekend. The full petition will be circulated to members of the Legislative Assembly.
Catherine Rodrigues, a parent who signed the signature said “safety of our children in the school buildings are paramount.”
Former teacher Hazel Riley said after signing the petition “These people can’t be serious. They have already lost too much time. Education should be given top priority. There is no more time to waste. The future of these children is at stake and the country also.”