Kato schoolchildren fetching logs for hot meals controversy

Kato schoolchildren fetching logs for hot meals… Regional Admin. was informed on three occasions


kato children fetching logsPicture:  Students of Kato Primary carrying the logs to be used for cooking

As controversy continues to surround the feeding programme at Kato Primary School, the   Regional Democratic Councilor, RDC at the centre of the issue, Neim Mohammed Gafoor is maintaining the credibility of his claims.

“I have proof to support what I’m saying… the matter was brought up to REDO and subsequently to Minister Ganga Persaud but he didn’t pay heed to what was happening. I do not have the Education Minister’s number so I took it upon myself to expose this sort of exploitation of young children,” he said.   

Last Thursday [June 6], Alliance For Change (AFC) Parliamentarian Ms Valerie Garrido-Lowe backed Gafoor’s claims. Lowe revealed in an invited comment yesterday that contrary to what was written in a Stabroek News article, the issue of the children fetching the logs was brought before the administrative body, at least three times.

“One of the Region’s Councilors had asked if tractors or trailers can be provided by the Region to carry the wood instead of the children but was told that the Ministry of Education was responsible for supplying fuel for transportation. However due to inactivity on the Regional administration side, the matter was to brought the attention of the press,” Lowe said.
The AFC gained the majority of votes in the region at the last General Elections.

The issue raised concerns countrywide with some persons and organizations offering to assist.
Education Minister, Priya Manickchand moved to further give a valid explanation into the circumstances of which several students from Kato Primary School were seen fetching firewood to facilitate a School Feeding initiative last Friday.

A preliminary investigation has been launched in response to the photos that surfaced in which a group of students from the Region Eight facility was seen carrying logs from beyond the far reaching Paramakatoi Mountains.

Minister Manickchand said that based on the statement from the Regional Educational Officer (REDO), Ms Carla Prescott to whom radio contact was made, “on Wednesday 17th April 2013, the kitchen staff noted that they were out of firewood and asked Teacher in Charge at the time –Ms Andrea Pereira— to organize the children to aid in the gathering of firewood from a nearby clump of bushes.  The teacher agreed to same and gathered the children who came early to school to assist.”

“During this time, statutory meeting of Regional Democratic Council Region # 8 was being held in Sub District 1 Kato Village.  Mr. Nieem Gafoor who is a Regional Councilor had attended this meeting and asked the children to pose for these pictures.  The unsuspecting children complied.”
Her response came amid criticism from the main opposition party, A Partnership for National Unity, APNU, which urged that Government stop their denial of the poor state of affairs in the hinterland regions and to seek immediate redress for the problems plaguing its residents.

According to the party, the graphic illustration shows the plight of hinterland school children and exposes a wider problem which is the dysfunctional nature of this Government which has its priorities all wrong.

“It is hell bent on central control when it should be meaningfully engaging duly-elected Regional Democratic Councils (RDCs) and, in keeping with constitutional provisions, empowering them. Sadly, however, the opposite is happening and the Government has deliberately set about to handicap and undermine the work and proper functioning of RDCs, thereby making them ineffective in delivering on their duties and responsibilities to residents who voted for them,” APNU stated.

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  • de castro  On 06/12/2013 at 8:22 am

    Is this a political or economic issue….or will commonsence prevail.
    I can accept if children are being exploited for financial gain or profit…
    as in sweat shops in poorer countries where children are used for
    the manufacturing products for “richer” countries mass consumption.
    But for a few school children to be encouraged to participate in helping
    their school in its needs for providing a school meal for a few days
    is certainly justifiable…to go one further let them also assist in the
    preparation or even growing of the foods for their schools….
    To use this “exploitation” for political gain “stinks” of raw politics
    …that may be a sad state of decay/decomposition in Guyana political
    Our next generation may hopefully rebel/revolt against the very politics
    some time in the future unless we start educating them now on how
    we can help ourselves….by working together for the common good.

    Politics and politicians sometimes read/get it wrong…..this is such an occasion.

    Please please use commonsense in politics.

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