Opposition Spokesperson for education Hon. Derick Manuari calls on the Ministry responsible for education to immediately look into the need to impose mandatory safety standards and measures in relation to the planning and construction of school infrastructure; and to also organise a multi-sectoral approach to make available adequate space for all schools for the sake of our school children.
The call was made after reports that a student at St. Nicholas school sustained serious injuries from an accident in the school compound involving a part of a water sink.
“My heart goes out this child and family. This unfortunate incident however has now brought to the forefront the questions of whether planning and construction of school infrastructure include appropriate safety standards and measures to protect our children and teachers or not?” Questioned the Opposition MP.
He said big schools aside, it is apparent in Honiara that most of the schools struggle for space and for money to meet their infrastructure needs, adding that some schools are even forced to set up in very awkward locations.
“It is a daily concern for parents driving by schools each day seeing children crossing where no proper crossings are provided, and amidst heavy traffic. If location is already a problem, there may also be problems with parking, sanitation, building structure and ventilation.
“If these are existing concerns then regrettably, our schools pose serious risks to the children which must be a concern for parents, guardians and teachers alike. If a sink, it might be a whole classroom structure that poses the threat. As such, this unfortunate incident begs serious attention from the Government and school authorities,” the Opposition Spokesperson for Education added.
Hon. Manuari added that dealing with this problem will require a multifaceted and sectoral approach hence, thus urged that the responsible Ministry start talking to the Land Board and MID to explore the possibility of allocating adequate land to schools including those in the provinces; and to also review existing school infrastructure with the view to making them safe.
He pointed out that poor parking, lack of sports grounds, sanitation, unsound structures and poor ventilation are some of the most obvious inconveniences and threats that our children face each day. These are concerns that cannot be brushed under the carpet any longer.
“I wish to however, applaud the many parent committees, communities, churches and organisations that have through their own initiatives and drives, built school infrastructure throughout the years. With the right support, these efforts will better serve the needs of our school children,” said Hon. Manuari.