ASC ‘ghost town’ leaves students fending for themselves

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Students at the Antigua State College (ASC) have been left with little to no academic supervision since the recent industrial action over the deplorable conditions at the facility resulted in the campus being almost completely deserted.

Over the past week, administrative and ancillary staff have been protesting for better working conditions. Lecturers and tutors joined the action on Tuesday, leaving students fending for themselves.

The students were told to show up for regular classes on Monday, but found no one there to teach them.

When OBSERVER media visited the Golden Grove campus yesterday there were only about 10 students from the Advanced Level Department milling around.

 “We haven’t really had many classes and students are not coming… teachers do not want to come,” one of them said.

Though students appear to have mixed feelings about the recent events, they all noted that they will have to resort to preparing on their own for upcoming external examinations.

Some of them added that they are not up-to-date with the syllabus and may suffer in CAPE examinations as a result.

On the other hand, a male student said that though the lack of classes may not affect him tremendously, being taught has its added benefits. He added that their math teacher seems to be the only one persevering with them.

Meantime, one undergraduate student also expressed concerns about the latest events saying, “When I returned to undergrad on Monday there was trash everywhere, the floors was still dirty and I was a bit concerned because the message said that extensive cleaning was done.

“With all the chaos that is going on it is adding to our stress. I had a class on Monday night and that class has eight to 10 people and only four showed up and so people are not showing up because of the environment,” she added.

Education Minister Michael Browne met with the staff on Tuesday to address their grievances, but they were not satisfied that he accepted their concerns as genuine.

One of the ASC staff was of the opinion that Minister Browne came just for a show and said the visit was tantamount to “political rubbish”.

However, the workers were advised by their bargaining agent, the Antigua Trades and Labour Union, to return to normal duties on Tuesday based on a promise from the Ministry of Works that a full report will be provided by Friday.

Yesterday, staff member Lila Hampson Farrell told OBSERVER that they were “trying to make some adjustment and rearrangement to comfort ourselves because we do not like the sun. Like most people that happen to work in airconditioned offices, you want to sit in the comfort of your office.”

OBSERVER media was told that the various heads of department were locked in a meeting while students were left unattended.

Students from other ASC departments such as Engineering and Business have also been affected by the protest action. 

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