“I am hurt” – HM as fire guts North Ruimveldt Multilateral School
…“We will rebuild” – Education Minister assures
The teaching block, which housed all the classrooms at the North Ruimveldt Multilateral Secondary School, located on Mandela Avenue, Georgetown, was completely destroyed by a massive fire on Saturday afternoon.
As firefighters battled the blaze which started at about 13:00h, several fire tenders were dispatched to the location, but the firemen lost the battle to the raging fire.
Hundreds flocked the area to get a glimpse of the ravaging fire as the blaze spread quickly beyond control, and completely destroyed the school’s main building, leaving just the outer walls standing.
An eyewitness, Sharmaine (only name given), told the media that the smoke was seen coming from the upper flat of the two-storey building. She said she called the Guyana Fire Service and reported what she saw.
The woman, who plies her trade not far from the school, said some 30 minutes after the call was made, four fire tenders responded, two of which had no water.
“They come and only two had water and they take some to come like half an hour. We see smoke coming from the top, straight smoke all at the top…,” she said.
No one was in the school at the time.
On the scene were Education Minister Priya Manickchand and Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn.
Manickchand assured teachers and students who gathered at the scene that the Government has their interests at heart.
“I want particularly the students of this school to know that we have already began work especially the 65 CSEC students that are to be doing their exams in the next six to seven days. We have already begun to determine where they are going to write the exam. We want to commit to them that they are going to get the full support from the essential Ministry and the Government to make sure they can successfully write these exams,” she explained.
According to Manickchand, the loss of the A-List school is heartrending since only recently, a smart classroom which cost millions was commissioned there. This was the first smart classroom to have been commissioned in the country.
Nevertheless, she pledged that the Government will rebuild the structure, which had 512 students and 39 teachers. The Minister also added that 65 of the school’s students are scheduled to write the 2021 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination.
“This is extremely unfortunate…this school is a great quality school. Students who do very well at NGSA are placed here and it will be a school that will be repaired and will recover from this,” the Minister explained.
While on the scene, Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn ran into the burning building without any protective gear and was overheard directing the firefighters on how to get the blaze under control. The Minister drove fear into his colleagues and persons at the scene after he was not heard from until a firefighter went in to ensure he was safe.
He came out completely soaked with water and covered in ash.
“I am hurt”
Meanwhile, the Head Mistress of the School, Allison Cosbert, told the media she learnt of the fire after receiving a call.
“I am hurt, I am shocked and I never expected something of this nature to happen but it is unfortunate and this is the situation we are in now. I got a call from a past teacher that the building was on fire. A matter of fact, I was at the hairdresser and I ran out and I came and this is what I saw,” the Head Teacher said.
In a post on the Education Ministry’s Facebook page later in the evening, parents, students and teachers of the school were assured that they will be updated on the decided measures within 48 hours.
The cause of the fire is being investigated and the damage assessed. (G9)