A peaceful protest was held in front of the District Education Center in Punta Gorda Town this morning.
Amandala understands that the protest was conducted in order to raise public awareness about a particular situation involving a teacher from Julian Cho Technical High School in that district, who has been prevented from obtaining an extension on his teaching license.
Apparently, the teacher, who is also head of the Science Department, Mr. Abdullah Adebara, a Nigerian-born, who has taught at the school for 10 years, is unable to renew his passport, therefore he has not been given an opportunity to renew his work permit.
The problem is that without the permit, which has been on hold for the last 6 weeks, the third and fourth form students at Julian Cho Technical High School have not been able to receive classes in physics and chemistry, even though all their school fees have been paid. What is even more distressing for the parents and students is that they (the students) are preparing for CXC exams, and they fear that the absence of the teacher will adversely affect their preparations.
Hence, the protesters are demonstrating for three reasons; firstly they want Mr. Abdullah Adebara to be given his work permit; secondly, they want him to at least be provided with a temporary teaching license; and finally, they want their teacher to be reinstated immediately so that he can continue to teach chemistry and physics.
Today, Amandala spoke with Carlos Galvez, the former mayor of PG, whose daughter is currently in fourth form at the high school. He is one of the concerned parents, and said that this weekend, when he went to pick up his daughter’s mid-term report card, the letters N/A were written next to the chemistry and physics subjects.
Galvez said that he does not understand why the teacher’s work permit has not been renewed, especially since Mr. Adebara has explored every avenue in hopes of receiving a renewed passport. He pointed out that Adebara has done a tremendous amount of work at the school, and therefore has a track record. He told us that the answers as to why they won’t renew the teacher’s work permit are not forthcoming, and in the meantime, the students are suffering, especially since they seem to appreciate his tutelage, since he also used to help the students with their assignments after school.
Galvez explained that they organized the peaceful protest in order for the Ministry of Education to intervene, and also for the Immigration Department to look into the matter. The decision to protest was made on Saturday at a meeting with some concerned parents, where Galvez said that they agreed to support the students.
The protest started at 8:30 a.m. this morning and ended at about 1:00 p.m. Only about 140 of the 770 students reportedly showed up for classes. He mentioned that their objective is to make sure that the physics and chemistry students have a teacher.
Amandala understands that parents plan to keep their children at home again tomorrow, and they are seeking to get a license from the police to demonstrate again on Wednesday.