28 February 2013

Gambia: St. Augustine's Senior School Closed Down Mobse Permanent Secretary Explains

Following the protest of the students of Saint Augustine's Senior Secondary School (SASSS) at the school grounds on Tuesday, 26 February, the Ministry of Secondary and Basic Education (MOBSE) on the same day announced the closure of the school till further notice through a press release read on the 10 pm television news on GRTS. The release further advised the students not to go to the school until it is reopened.

Talking to the Basic and Secondary Education Permanent Secretary yesterday at his office in Banjul, Mr. Babaoucar Bouy informed this paper that his Ministry and the school authorities will be having a meeting today (Thursday) to discuss the issue regarding the riot by the students of St. Augustine's S.S.S. The MoBSE PS said as at now the reason behind the students' protest is not yet fully established and would only be known after their scheduled meeting with the school authorities.

Mr. Bouy however said that his Ministry has closed down the school till further notice and it will reopen after the matter is thoroughly looked into and addressed.

On whether there were any arrests of the protesting students or the school authorities both the Principal, Mr. Martin Gomez and the Vice Principal, Father Manneh were reported to have been invited by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). PS Bouy said no one was arrested as he was there together with the St. Augustine's School principal as well as the principals of the surrounding schools until everybody was dispersed.

This reporter also visited the school yesterday to talk to the authorities but did not find the principal or his assistant at their offices.

Readers could recall that the students at the said school had demonstrated on Tuesday, 26 February, leveling some allegations against the school Vice Principal Father Manneh which lead to the vandalisation of his official vehicle and the breaking of windows of some classrooms, including the Chemistry Lab which recorded other damages. The Police Intervention Unit (PIU) was later called upon to disperse the demonstrating students.

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