Former Education Minister Arsene James has described as “unacceptable”, an incident where a student at Choiseul Secondary was shocked by a live wire.
James, who has repeatedly criticised the government for not investing enough in school repairs and maintenance, told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) on Thursday (Jan.7) that the incident may have been avoidable.
“We had a number of electricians assigned to various schools. Now I think they have one individual for all electrical works at all the schools on Saint Lucia,” he explained.
The United Workers Party (UWP) Member of Parliament (MP) reiterated that the government made the worst mistake to place the responsibility for maintenance of schools, with the Infrastructure Ministry.
“The Ministry of Infrastructure isn’t as sensitive to the needs of the schools, as was the Ministry of Education, because they have other works. I think what happens in the school takes second place,” he remarked.
James believes that the issue of repair and maintenance at schools are not dealt with in a timely manner as was done before. He also maintains that the Minister of Education is responsible for all schools, as stated in the Education Act.
Meanwhile, Chief Education Officer (CEO) of the Education Ministry, Marcus Edward, told SNO that he has received a written report from the school’s principal and is currently looking into the matter.
Edward said he was told that the student “accidentally” placed her hand on a broken switch, which caused her to get shocked. He said, the principal claims that he was unaware that the switch needed repair.
The CEO said while the responsibility for maintenance and repairs now lies with the Infrastructure Ministry, the engineers are usually called into to do inspections and repairs, by the school principal.
A fourth form student at Choiseul Secondary, Danzella Joseph, was reportedly shocked by a live wire on Wednesday, when she placed a hand on the wall, close to an old electric switch.
The school building is said to be structurally unsound and is due for repairs soon.