The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) office in Guyana had warned since last year that school dormitories in Guyana have a number of issues that must be addressed as a matter of urgency for the safety of students and those who occupy the facilities.
UNICEF conducted a review of all 24 of the school dormitories countrywide in early 2022, and handed over its report to the Ministry of Education.
In the report, which was seen by News Source, the UNICEF office highlighted a long list of issues ranging from the inadequacy of the windows resulting into major ventilation issues at dorms in the hinterland to structural defects in the buildings.
The UNICEF review also found that the buildings were without central fire alarms or warning systems.
In the cases of buildings that were found with fire extinguishers, the review found that those extinguishers were in poor condition and there were no proper signage leading to them.
‘All the school dormitory facilities have systematic and similar issues related to management system inadequacies, lack of resources and inadequate functional spaces, major shortage of staff and behavioral issues with students,” the UNICEF report pointed out.
UNICEF recommended that the design and specifications of all new dorms or extension of existing dorms should be reviewed within the framework of new standards, explaining that quality assurance management and facilities maintenance management should be planned and organized to retain investments and safeguard outcomes.
“MoE can consider the establishment of a Dorms Rehab Programme that is concerned with the administration and facilities improvement and development of a management and sustainable framework. Given the small number of dormitory facilities, this is a feasible proposal to be considered to ensure results and sustain changes,” UNICEF recommended.
UNICEF further pointed out that there are security concerns at many of the dorms, especially the ones located in proximity to mining districts such as in Mahdia and Port Kaituma.
The review also found overcrowding at some dorms, and raised a red flag about health measures at the facilities.
Three weeks ago, a late night fire ripped through the Mahdia School dorm, claiming 20 lives, and injuring many others. Many of those who died, were trapped in the heavily grilled building.
The President has promised that a Commission of Inquiry will be conducted into the tragic fire.