More than 100 children were left to their own devices this week after a principal refused them entry onto her school for a holiday program.
The fun-filled program was organised by a non-governmental organisation which wanted to host their third annual holiday program at the Retreat school for more than 120 laaities from the gang-infested area.
According to Basil Williams, 45, the head of Due Time Skills Development and Agriculture, the program was approved by the governing body of Lourier Primary School but the “spiteful” palie then refused them access, leaving the children stranded.
He says they have organised talks and activities for the children by several government organisations, including the Department of Correctional Services, but “were left out in the cold” by Mrs Venetia Naidoo.
He says Naidoo even denied the children a bathroom to use.
“It’s winter and we needed the kitchen to prepare the two meals we make for the children and any of the stakeholders, but the children stood shivering outside,” says Williams.
“The school hall was locked, the classrooms were all locked and the bathrooms were also locked. We were out in the cold with those poor children and she did this because she has a disagreement with the governing body.”
He says on the last day of school, Naidoo informed him that she would not host the children.
He then tried to convince her about the benefits of a holiday program in an area crippled by gangs, drugs and crime.
“We went there on Monday and Tuesday hoping she would find some kind of sense. She punished the children over an argument with the governing body. She is not equipped to do her job right,” he says adamantly.
In desperation, he moved the venue to the Cafda Hall, along Prince George Drive, and was not surprised by the lack of attendance.
“For these children, school is a haven from their gang-ridden areas and their parents felt that having the program so close to the main road was not safe,” says Basil.
A mother, Chantal Moses, 35, slammed the palie for disappointing the children.
“This is just like them. The principal and staff are incompetent and don’t really care about my child’s safety. I kept him home because Cafda is not safe.”
Spokesperson for the provincial MEC of Education, Jessica Shelver says she spoke to the administrative clerk at the school as Naidoo is currently out of the country.
“According the school’s administrative clerk, the acting principal and the school governing body [SGB] had some disagreement regarding the programme and no final decisions were taken.
“Therefore no formal decision was reached to allow the programme to run at the school – therefore the school could not provide access in this regard,” says Shelver.