Statement by Team Unity’s Leader, Dr the Hon. Timothy Harris M.P., J.P. On The Worsening Situation at The Basseterre High School

Press Release

As a parent and alumnus of the Basseterre High School I am aggrieved and disappointed that after 3 years of recurring health and other problems at my alma mater, the government of the day is unable to solve the problems at this premier institution of learning. How many more of our teachers and students are to suffer at the incompetence of the government which prefers to bury its head in the sand while teachers suffer bodily and emotional harm including rashes, debilitating headaches and respiratory problems? What is it about the reality that people are getting sick, that the illegitimate Douglas administration does not understand?

It is time for the health, safety and security of our students and hardworking teachers to take priority and preeminence. It is time that the government frees itself of its psychosomatic display dressed up it the insensitive remarks of Denzil Douglas. “Nothing is wrong at the school,” the outgoing Prime Minister told the media recently.

Everything is wrong at the Basseterre High School. Our teachers and students should not settle down in an environment that undermines their health and wellness. The government as signatory to the ILO Convention ought to abide by international standards of occupational safety. It must abide by the precautionary principle in matters of public health.

For any government and any head of government to ask teachers and students to risk their health is a clear indication that the government and head of government are delusional, reckless and cavalier about people’s health. That is why the quality of health care at our major institutions is under question.

Parents, teachers and students have decided to take a stand in defense of their fundamental constitutional and human right to a safe and healthy environment. We in Team Unity applaud their courage to do what’s right and we encourage them to continue to do good. We commend Bishop Ron Collins, President of the Teachers Union, Mrs. Carlene Morton, Principal of the Basseterre High School and the Parent Teacher’s Association (PTA) on their eminent leadership during this period of stress and suffering by the teachers and students.

Team Unity is about creating a prosperous society in which each is endeavoring and each is achieving. In such a society education, health and wellbeing of our people will be number one priority. Without good health and education our society will not adequately realize growth, development and wealth for all.

Team Unity is about solutions…people centered solutions for the furtherance of the public good. The removal of some teachers as proposed by Nigel Carty is myopic and insensitive. It leaves the problem unresolved and the remaining teachers at risk. The first phase of a solution to the deteriorating problem at the Basseterre High School is to relocate the staff and students to a safe environment. A feasible solution that has been proposed and employed so far is the shift system at the WAHS. The second phase of the solution is to construct a brand new school. We must acknowledge that Basseterre High School is some sixty years old and like other public buildings have been poorly maintained over years. The spending of $7million to cover-up inherent structural problems is not the answer. Why did the government spend $7 million anyway without open public tendering? Is the government not concern enough to show accountable stewardship of our money _ every penny of it?

Because we truly care about people, we pledge never to put our teachers, students or any citizen or resident for that matter at risk. A team Unity government will also refund all medical expenses incurred as a consequence of this regime’s bungling and incompetence in rectifying the health hazard at the Basseterre High School. We call on all schools, principals and teachers to show solidarity with the principal and staff of the Basseterre High School.

Team Unity wants a better quality of life for all our people – our students, our teachers indeed for everyone. Let’s unite to build a kinder society. In such a dispensation we must bid goodbye to arrogance and disrespect shown by Ministers of government, not just to our students, parents and teachers at the Basseterre High School but to the people of this country. In such a dispensation, democracy will be restored and fundamental rights strengthened and restored as provided for in our constitution.

Democracy and development are interwoven. That’s why Team Unity will develop a deeper and broader democratic order and an inclusive approach to people centered development and broad-based wealth creation.

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