Student Protest Leaves Adm. Building Damaged in Rivercess

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Credible reports reaching the Daily Observer say that some aggrieved students of Cestos High School in Rivercess County yesterday morning stormed the county administration building to express their anger and frustration, chanting, “No renovation, no school, no By-Election.”

Cestos High is the only Senior High School operating in the county of nearly 20,000 inhabitants.

According to the reports, the students broke doors, windows, chairs and other furniture in the administrative building housing the Superintendent’s compound.

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Mr. Jacob Kouviakoe, education consultant in the county, reported that the demonstrators first congregated outside the school building before expanding their activities into other parts of Cestos City, the capital of Rivercess County.

Their protest comes about two weeks to the holding of a By-Election for the vacant seat created  as a result of the then  District #2 Representative Francis Paye winning the county senatorial spot at the special senatorial election last December.

  Mr. Kouviakoe, who spoke yesterday with this newspaper via mobile phone from the county said the students also turned their anger on Senator Paye who they claimed had not done enough to convince authorities at the Ministry of Education to fulfill their promises to renovate the building.

 “I think the point the students are trying to make is that the county authority is responsible for the government’s failure to renovate their building,” said the county’s education consultant, while at the same time condemning the students’ action.

He put the cost of the damage done to the building at approximately US$35,000.

Within the past two years, said Kouviakoe, authorities at the Ministry conducted a feasibility study of the building and put the cost of renovation at US$68,000 which, according to him, they have failed to provide for the renovation work.

“We met with authorities of the Ministry and we agreed that they were going to provide the money to start the renovation work, but up to present, nothing has been done in that direction. And, the building is leaking badly.   Everything there has been destroyed as a result of exposure to rain,” Kouviakoe lamented.

“Look, my brother, if you were here I think you would have joined the protest because nobody, even those Ministers, would have allowed their children to learn under such deplorable conditions. It is troubling, especially with the rainy season at hand.  If nothing is done, I fear, there will be no learning for them this year.”

According to Kouviakoe, the demonstrators picked up Senator Paye from his house and took him to the school, apparently to see the condition under which they were learning.

He did not say whether the aggrieved students destroyed anything at Senator Paye’s house.

Mr. Kouviakoe also said police assigned in the county managed to prevent the students from entering some of the banks that are housed at the administrative building by responding with pepper spray.

When the crowd took to the streets, their anger swelled. Students shouted, “We are not going to allow the By-Election if our school building is not renovated.”

“Some held placards and others were heard saying we will not stop until our school building is renovated.” Their action prevented normal activities from taking place in Cestos city, as the angry students blocked roads in the city.

 “It is not fair,” said Mr. Kouviakoe.  “The delay is an embarrassment to our school and a disservice to the student population.”

Just before the day ended, the police gained control of the crowd and managed to arrest a student who is believed to be the leader of the demonstration, Mr. Kouviakoe reported.

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