Tower Hill Primary Wants Concrete Date For Closure
Students at the Tower Hill Primary School continue to be in limbo about which school they will be attending come September given that they are yet to know whether or not the school will be closed in the upcoming school year.
Principal at the school Eulett Marshall told the Gleaner that they anticipated the closure given the drastic decline in the school’s population over the years. The school has a total of 22 students, five of whom sat the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT).
“I understand what they have said because of the low population we will have to close but I am concerned about the children who live very far to travel with no public transportation, that is the greatest concern,” she said.
The uncertainty regarding the date of the closure has also concerned Marshall.
In regards to a date she said,” It is likely for September, we have not heard anything concrete saying that it will be, all we are hearing is that it is likely to be closed.”
Marshall also disclosed that the lack of a concrete date has made the transition difficult for parents.
“The parents understand the whole thing but their point is that they were not given enough time to plan for it because they have been told likely, they want to hear that it is September so that they would have made preparation from before... and they would have liked to get that information from early so they know that it is positive that the school will be closed,” she added.
Pointing to the socio-economic conditions in the community of Tower Hill, Marshall said that most of the parents cannot afford the cost associated with transportation to send their children seven miles away to Mount Fletcher Primary School, the nearest alternative.
“I am sure that some of those children will not be going to school regularly because even at Tower Hill, if they don’t have any lunch they can come to school just the same and they would get their lunch now they are going to Mount Fletcher it calls for added expense for the parents,” she said.
The Principal who is set to go on retirement leave in light of the impending closure noted that most of the parents are coffee farmers who have been hit hard by the recent fires in East Rural St.Andrew and the current drought.
Opposition Spokesperson on Education and Youth, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, while not speaking specifically to the Tower Hill closure has raised concerns about the planned closures.
In a release to the media she said,” some schools which I understand are being considered for closure are close to students' homes and communities, and if they are closed, the children will have to travel miles away to the nearest Primary School. This will not only create additional costs for parents, but runs counter to the recently announced policy of the Ministry to place GSAT students in institutions close to their homes to remove travel costs from reasons of absenteeism."