Low student intake and financial difficulties have put one private secondary school out of business and placed another on the verge of closure, while a third has struggled against the odds to remain open for at least one more year.
Barbados TODAY investigations have revealed that Industry High School at Heddings, St Philip, which was founded by late educator Hilda Skeene, ended last term with seven students in the classroom and opened the new school year last week with no one to teach.
Longstanding educational institution Metropolitan High School and Night Institute managed to get enough students to continue for another year, after founder Oliver Cox was “toying with the idea of closing”; while Unique High School is barely holding on, and only doing so because of aid from old scholars.
Principal at Industry High School Albert Joseph declined comment when contacted, but a senior official told Barbados TODAY that the 88-year-old institution which boasted of having a student roll of more than 400 in the 1960s, did not have one person enrolled this term.
However, the official said the school doors would be kept open in case “someone needs help, or someone gets suspended [from another school].”
The situation almost reached that stage at Metropolitan on Roebuck Street. However, principal Cox said “an unexpected intake” in students this term caused him to have a change of heart.
“I was toying with the idea of closing too, but since we did get an influx, we said ‘well, keep it going’,” the 81-year-old educator said of the learning institution he has been operating for 58 years.
“I have a board to assist me. On one occasion the board felt we should close. I told them we would try it for a little longer and see . . . at least if we could go on for another year,” he added when asked how long he saw the school continuing its operations.
Cox said that at its peak, Metropolitan High had a roll of about 400.
“This term we only have about 30 students,” he lamented.
“Every time the school seems to be going down, we get an influx. The bookshop is not doing well at all. The institute is still doing reasonably well [although] we don’t have the amount of students we had before.”
Speaking to Barbados TODAY, principal of Unique High School Monica Crawford acknowledged that the Dayrell’s Road, Christ Church facility is barely staying afloat.
She said while the school’s Old Scholars Association was helping out, outstanding school fees had reached into the thousands of dollars and still climbing.
Crawford said while money was the main problem, she would continue to do everything possible, for as long as possible, to keep the school’s doors open.
However, she acknowledged the current state of affairs could not go on indefinitely.
Among the most noteable private secondary schools that have already gone out of business are Federal High, Modern High and Cooperative High.
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