The State of Schools: Fans vs A/Cs

Spread the love


Alicia Chamely
By Alicia Chamely

UPON the opening of schools, which coincided with what can be debated as the hottest September ever, former independent senator and social activist Dr Kriyaan Singh asked an interesting question on social media.

Singh asked parents  whether their children’s school was air conditioned or fan cooled. What
started as a simple question ended up highlighting not only the outdated conditions of our schools, but the inequity of education in T&T.

As one would expect, parents of children in private schools or well-funded denominational schools
confirmed that their children were comfortably learning in either fully or partially airconditioned schools.

Parents of children in public schools complained their children were not in airconditioned classrooms but had fans. Unfortunately, many complained that the fans or single fan in their child’s classroom was not sufficient to beat the heat or wasn’t working at all.

Neil Transport Services

As such their children were hot, uncomfortable and frankly not in the correct state to concentrate on their work, especially given the fact that uniforms in T&T were obviously designed by sadists.

Many parents used the forum to state their displeasure about the state of many schools. Incomplete construction, broken desks, out of service toilets, being asked to provide everything short of a desk chair.

Every year, education gets one of the largest cuts in our National Budget and I ask where is this money going? How is it being managed?

Clearly not well if year after year school repairs don’t get finished and we constantly hear reports of schools literally falling apart or being overrun by some form of vermin.

Understandably a large part of the budget goes towards salaries. Teachers need to be paid their worth, because without them there is nothing. But how is the remaining money being spent?

Yes, parents do have a certain responsibility to aid the school. My children go to a private school. The majority of schools fees go towards teachers’ salaries and the day-to-day expenses of the school. The PTA is responsible for playground maintenance, smart boards, library, providing any extras that may be needed by teachers. They fund raise like crazy and yearly provide parents with a run down of what they have done, how much they raised and where that money has gone.

The system works… for our school, a school where children come from homes where there is disposable income and where parents have time to get involved.

This system cannot work for many public schools. Asking parents who don’t have extra money to spend or time to give is unreasonable, which is why many schools in rural or economically disadvantaged areas suffer the most.

The unfair part about this is that children in these schools are most in need of a solid education and for some a place outside of the home where they can feel safe.

Educational inequity is not endemic to T&T, but as time goes on the gap between the schools that have and the schools that do not widens.

This is where our government needs to step in. Other than weeding out corrupt or irresponsible spending within the Ministry and Educational Districts, partnerships with the private sector and other organisations need to be made.

Think along the same lines of the “adopt a school” programme that was done during the Covid lockdown where corporations were invited to provide devices to schools in need.

Initiatives like this need to be continued, creating an alternative “PTA” so to speak. Have a large company or group help provide be it through services, finances or maintenance works.

The private sector is always looking for highly visible corporate social responsibility initiatives. No parent should have to shake the last five cents they have left out of their wallet after buying books and uniforms to put up to buy a fan for their child’s classroom. And not every school has parents who have the time or resources to fund raise or know how to reach out for help.

There are some responsibilities that the Government needs to handle. The main one being that children have decent school that isn’t falling apart on them, that our nation’s future is given a space conducive to learning. And if they can’t do it alone, they need to ask for help from those that can provide.

Right now, we are failing in so many ways when it comes to the education of our children, from an exhausting, over-achieving, high pressure syllabus, to a lack of social and psychological support. The least we can do is make sure that our schools’ infrastructure is in order.

Remember if you fail the children, you fail the future of our nation.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *