Ramai Trace parents protest over grazing cows at school

The Ramai Trace Hindu School is 95 percent complete but it the ground in so overgrown with bush that it is now being used as a pasture for cows and goats.

In the meantime, over 200 students from the school are attending classes in the Hanuman Milan Mandir at Penal Rock Road, located several miles away.

Frustrated that their young loved ones were attending classes in a cramped, poorly ventilated mandir with limited washrooms, angry parents staged a protest at the overgrown school on Wednesday morning.

Holding up placards which read, "Help our children," "Rowley must go" and "We pay taxes too", the parents demanded that the Ministry of Education immediately complete the construction of the school.

PTA president Sherry Persad- Bhagwansingh said construction stopped in 2015 and since then promises were made that the school will be completed.

"It is almost four years and we still waiting. Every time we call the Ministry they saying that the school is in a priority list. If this is a priority then what about those schools which are not a priority?" Persad- Bhagwansingh asked.

Since 2015, more than 100 pupils have been transferred out of the school because of deplorable conditions. 

When Guardian Media visited the school, vines were seen growing on the stairways and sides of the building. A cow was tied at the overgrown yard and goats grazed at the back.

Persad- Bhagwansingh said the building was almost ready to be occupied but the government was deliberately keeping it closed.

"What benefit can they get from keeping the school closed? What joy do they get from seeing our children suffer?"

Former public relations officer at the school Vandana Sankaar said she was disheartened by the continued closure of the school. She said the PTA held several meetings with Minister Lovell Francis and Anthony Garcia and promises were made.

"Nothing happened and this is unacceptable. We want the school open now," she added.

Another parent Maria Ramoutar said there were only two washrooms at the man for over 150 girls and one washroom and a urinal for 60 boys.

She said her son told her he often has to hold up his urine because of the long lines at the toilet and the dirty condition it often was in. 

" The stench is so unbearable and this is not healthy for the children, " Ramoutar said. She also added that children were getting into fights because they were irritated by the deplorable conditions. 

The parents say they want the school to be opened as soon as possible.

Guardian Media will bring you more information as this story unfolds.

- by Radhica De Silva. Photos by Ivan Toolsie and Rishi Ragoonath.

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