Naparima MP condemns Gov’t for disrespect to Baptists and to students of Cowen Hamilton Secondary School
MP for Naparima Rodney Charles is today condemning the Ministry of Education for the stoppage of classes since September 30th this year at the Cowen Hamilton Secondary School, the only and flagship Baptist secondary school in the country, because of health and respiratory issues related to poor air quality.
Since September students and teachers of this prestige school have complained about respiratory discomfort, skin itches, rashes and redness and itching of the eye and students have not returned to classes. It is understood that tests are being conducted by CARIRI.
Many Cowen students live in nearby Naparima constituency and parents of students attending the school have complained about the implications of these and other developments for the education of their children.
According to MP Charles, himself a Baptist and a former graduate geography teacher at Cowen, this is merely another example of how the PNM sees Baptists merely as a vote bank. Assured of their votes at election time they see no need to deal promptly and effectively with their issues and Baptists are therefore accorded scant respect. They are essentially taken for granted and mamaguyed accordingly.
Cowen Hamilton, a prestige Baptist school with excellent academic results, has the worst physical accommodation among secondary schools in the country yet in this year’s budget not a single cent was allocated for the school’s upgrade.
When questioned by MP Charles two weeks ago in the Budget debate about the non allocation of resources for Cowen’s upgrade, all that junior Education Minister Francis Lovell, who is the MP for the constituency in which the school is located, could say was that he had spoken to the Principal and the Ministry was looking into the dilapidated conditions in which Cowen students are housed.
While they are merely looking at Cowen’s situation, millions have already been allocated in fiscal year 2017 to many secondary schools in less need.
The Baptist Union runs one secondary and three primary schools. Of the three, the Fifth Company Baptist in Moruga was rebuilt by a UNC administration. Webb Memorial Baptist primary school in New Grant was rebuilt by an NAR administration. In addition, under the UNC a modern Early Childhood Center was constructed at the back of the Princes Town Baptist Church in Craignish.
“It is time for this PNM administration to step up to the plate and rebuild Cowen Hamilton, the worst secondary school in the country in terms of physical accommodation; and also the Marac Baptist the worst primary school in the country in terms of physical infrastructure” says the Naparima MP.
“I will take it as my appointed task to shame this PNM administration to do at least one thing for the Baptist community who unfortunately supports them uncritically”. I will be extremely unforgiving on the PNM when they recite their usual platitudes in Parliament at next Shouter Baptist Liberation Day.
MP Charles is calling on this PNM to name a single thing various PNM administrations have done for Baptists during their decades in office. The Anti Shouter legislation was repealed during the colonial era. The spiritual Baptists were given by UNC administrations a national holiday, a primary school and an early childhood centre in the East/West corridor.
The London Missionary Society who built Cowen, and Cranston Bell a missionary from London who was an Oxford MA Graduate and the school’s first principal, did more for Cowen and Baptist educational efforts locally than so called nationalist PNM administrations.
“The time has come for (London) Baptists whose forefathers fought the mighty United States government and (spiritual) Baptists who unrelentingly fought the great colonial administration to demand reciprocal respect from the PNM through action and not talk. They can do no less than demand the complete refurbishment of the Cowen Hamilton Secondary School.