By Omar Bah
National Assembly Committee on education, training and ICT has raised concerns over the continuous closure of Old Yundum Upper and Lower Basic School.
The school was shut down some weeks ago “after a young girl suffering from TB fainted due to the unbearable odour and smoke from a dump site near the school.”
The school authorities said the stink has invaded the entire school, making life “very uncomfortable” for the students to stay in their classes and following the fainting of the young girl, it was decided students stay at home. This decision was made in October.
The authorities say although the students have grown accustomed to the smell of garbage, the putrid scent that would waft into classrooms was becoming increasingly unbearable.
Speaking to The Standard on the issue, the National Assembly member for Busumbala, Saikouba Jarju, said: “When we arrived at the school, the teachers we found there told us the school has closed because of the odour. They also told us the odour made it uncomfortable for students to breathe which led to the fainting of a girl”.
Jarju said after hearing from the school teachers, he personally contacted the CEO of Brikama Area Council who told him that the council is aware of the situation but the community is unwilling to cooporate with the company that was identified by the Council to collect the thrash.
“He told me even the driver who was going there to collect the thrash was continuously harassed by the community.”
The Busumbala NAM said he had also called the Education Minister who told him she was not in the loop.
“We then decided to proceed to Brikama to meet the director of region 3 who informed us that he has received the complaints from the school but he had advised the school authorities to write to him officially,” he said.
He said the National Assembly member for Old Yundum, Abdoulie Ceesay, has also contacted the Minister of Environment to help solve the problem as quick as possible.
“Work is already underway to collect the waste but the fumes have not mostly dissipated and the waste pile is still in high heaps. What we saw during this tour has really terrified us and we cannot sit and watch Gambian children go through such heinous punishments in schools. Business cannot be as usual,” he added.
He said the Committee will write a report which they will present before lawmakers and make recommendations to relevant authorities.
“If any institution fails to work on those recommendations, we will find you and charge you with contempt of National Assembly. We are not taking these issues lightly especially with the Ministry of Education… If they fail to act on these recommendations, they will be charged which can lead to anything,” he warned.