Tue | Dec 6, 2016

A nightmare of trash!

Published:Sunday | March 8, 2015 | 12:00 AMNadine Wilson-Harris
Garbage piled high inside the George Headley Primary School in Duhaney Park, St Andrew.

The failure of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) to regularly collect garbage at a corporate area school has left the school's principal beyond frustrated after the institution was given a failing grade for cleanliness by health inspectors.

Principal of the George Headley Primary School in Duhaney Park, St Andrew, Aretha Willie, has likened the NSWMA to a 'recurring nightmare' and is upset that she is being held responsible for the failure of garbage collectors to come to her school weekly.

"I have had the distinction of calling the agency on an average of twice daily, so much so, that my voice is easily recognisable by several members of staff. It is evident that the NSWMA is Jamaica's third political party, and I must be the typical Jamaican fickle voter because, with each interaction, all I receive are promises, and I continue to believe," said Willie.

The principal told The Sunday Gleaner that despite an agreement with the NSWMA to collect garbage from the school every Saturday, garbage is at times left to pile up for three weeks before being collected. This, she feels, is placing the school's 1,570 students and more than 60 staff members at serious health risk.

Willie has been an educator for more than 20 years and was an education officer at the Ministry of Education before being seconded to the primary school last year September. The school was visited by a health inspector last October, at which time she received a zero for garbage disposal. Willie was told she would get another zero if things remain the same.

 

ANOTHER ZERO

 

"My issue is that when the health inspector came, I was the one that had to suffer for it, which I had absolutely no control over. It's not like I didn't use my initiative to make the calls and to invite the relevant persons to come in and see first-hand, and, with all of that being said, I still got a zero," she said.

Although the garbage was collected the day after the health inspector came, Willie noted that garbage collection at the school is still haphazard. The principal was encouraged by parents to block the road, however, she has refused to give this any consideration. Instead, she decided to use over $250,000 from the school's funds to pave and fence the area where the garbage is located so that the eyesore will, at least, remain hidden. This money was being set aside to purchase some well-needed equipment for the school.

"Some of the plans that we had, we had to shelve them," she said.

"We are struggling now for technological devices ... the school only has, can I say one and a half projectors, and we have 36 classes," she noted.

The principal is now calling for justice on behalf of her students and staff who have to deal with the mess daily. "Where does one get justice?" she asked.