ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Close to $7,000 in books went up in flames in an apparent case of arson at Ottos Comprehensive School and officials are disgusted over the development.
The blaze was started Thursday night, exactly one day after an attempt had been made to burn the same building that houses books distributed to students annually.
Executive Secretary of the Board of Education D Gisele Isaac-Arrindel and Senior Education officer Clare Browne condemned both incidents.
“When you burn books and you destroy a school, you are destroying the future. From that perspective, I am outraged and from a money perspective I am very, very disappointed because we are obligated to provide schoolbooks to all the students in Antigua & Barbuda,” Isaac-Arrindel said.
“That is probably our second priority at the Board of Education and we have been trying to fulfill that obligation with fewer resources than we are accustomed to having.
“So to have to buy books that we already have in the system is just a slap in the face to those who pay Education Levy.”
She urged residents to look out for the safety of students, schools and ultimately the country’s future.
The first instance of arson occurred around 9:30 pm Wednesday. About $100 in books was burnt and two windows damaged. Security guards on site noticed the blaze at an early stage and the Fire Department responded quickly thus preventing further damage.
Browne said, “I think it is most disgusting that a person or persons would want to target the education system like that. If some people are not interested in learning, then they need to go gently into that good night. These are difficult financial times. We already might not have had sufficient books for all our students in our schools and to try to burn the very few books we have is very disgusting.”
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)