The primary school land is one of the many reasons for disagreement in the village of Cotton Tree, Cayo District. The Catholic Mission would like the title of the school land to be transferred to them; in order to build a new building, beautify the campus, and secure its perimeter. Presently the land belongs to the community; the community centre and clinic are also on the same compound. Many of the villagers are of the opinion that if there is a sincere desire to develop the school, the land title is not needed.
A meeting was convened on November 3, where villagers came out to speak about the issue and stated that they are against the transfer of the land title. A history of the village was given by Mrs. Hortence Anderson, daughter of one of the first settlers of Cotton Tree. She explained that three acres of land were given to the Catholic Mission for them to build a school but it was never used.
The villagers then took it upon themselves to clear another piece of land and build the community centre on it. Children were being taught at the centre but soon there was a need for another building; with assistance the villagers were able to build another building. These two buildings weren’t enough so, the Women’s Group sought the assistance of Social Investment Fund (SIF) to build a new school building.
According to a note sent to the parents by the principal of the school, there are presently 473 students, which means there is an issue with space. In the same note the principal states that a company would like to build but it cannot do so without the title of the land, therefore they are requesting parents to formally sign that they agree that the title should be transferred to the mission.
In the note the principal raises concerns of vandalism to the school since it is not fenced. She also mentioned that marijuana is being found at the school since anyone can play at the basketball court. At the meeting it was discussed that the village can work together to fix this problem and the transfer of the land title is not needed.
The villagers are of the opinion that if the land title is given to the mission the community will no longer have access to the facilities since the Catholic Mission will be the owner of the land.
Organizers of the meeting also allege that the chairs were intentionally removed from the community centre and the centre’s electricity was plugged out for the meeting they had organized.
The principal of the school has scheduled a meeting for Sunday.