Local manufacturers were today told that if they can meet the requirements, there could be opportunities to supply schools with furniture.
Minister of Education Ronald Jones on a tour today of several schools that were under renovations as part of the 2012 Domestic Summer Programme, said they were still hoping the demand for furniture in schools could be met locally.
Jones noted that Barbados had a history of making furniture for infants, dating back to when some of his officers were school children themselves, with cribs and other small items being sourced here.
For the more demanding pieces for some primary and secondary schools though, the minister noted that these were imported.
“The furniture made out of steel, a lot of which is deployed in secondary schools and some of our primary schools, much of that is imported because you are faced with several challenges. First thing, raw materials here, fabrication techniques to be used, the delivery timelines that we would want so that persons can meet the start of any school term — those are some challenges,” he explained.
Jones added: “We are accustomed in the past to wooden furniture. Regardless of how good the wood is, it eventually goes. The ones we are using now tend to last a lot longer, and even if the top is removed then a top can be placed back on the frame so you wouldn’t have to do the whole thing from scratch.”
This did not mean that local manufacturers could not do this, he added. In fact, said the education minister, he would like to see them make the effort.
“I would still like to see personally, one or two or more persons taking a keener eye on the supply of furniture, especially furniture made locally for our schools. Not all that are currently available will suit the school environment.
“The school environment can be rugged; the constant movement of furniture, people have to sweep, people have to sit, get up, move them around. So they do go through some abuse, some wear and tear. So they must be really sturdy and they should also be of such where they cannot be used as missiles. So you have to pay all of that kind of attention.
“We would like local manufacturers, … somebody … to come up with the appropriate design, the appropriate materials to meet the needs of the school environment,” he challenged. (LB)