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General Secretary of the Guyana Teachers Union, Ms. Coretta McDonald said the Union will do all in its power to ensure the teachers, particularly those at Mahdia Secondary, Nursery and Primary, schools who are impacted by the tragedy get the needed support to move forward.
On the evening of Sunday 21st May fire razed the Mahdia Secondary School female dormitory resulting in many injuries, hospitalisation, and the death of 18 girls and a five-year-old boy, the son of the dorm Mother. One of the children was medevac’d to New York over the weekend for treatment.
In an interview with Village Voice News, McDonald informed there are are so many things that were wrong in handling the tragedy, including the government choosing to reduce such a dire situation to photo-opportunities, parading grieving children and families to events as though they care, failing to come to grip with the fact that this was an accident, and accidents do not happened they are caused. “The government is taking no responsibility for this tragedy,” she observed.
Going further, the General Secretary said it remains regrettable the government did not see the need to give the students and teachers, who did not have to do CXC, the remaining week off. The three-days of national mourning, which President Irfaan Ali declared from Monday 22 from 4:00 p.m.- Thursday May 24 @ 4:00 p.m., did not cater for the teachers and children of Mahdia, McDonald pointed out.
She informed the nursery, primary and secondary schools are within the vicinity of the destroyed building and children, teachers and parents would have to traverse the area and watch the authorities going about their business on the site. “This is traumatic for our teachers and students who are expected to put on brave faces, move by, teach and learn as though life is normal, when it’s not,” she shared.
The General Secretary, who expressed her grief over the tragedy, said the Teachers Union has contacted counsellors to support the Union in providing mental/cognitive and psychosocial support for the teachers. The teachers, she said, although they are grieving, will pick up the pieces and continue to care for the our children. “We love what we do.”
McDonald said this week the Union plans to hold a Branch meeting in the area which would allow for greater interaction with the teachers and developing plans to navigate this difficult period. “We are committed to our teachers and children and will do the best we can to ensure a safe teaching and learning environment, and for the children in the dormitories, a safe living environment,” she assured.