The first of six nursery schools being constructed by the Maria Holder Memorial Trust opened this morning, providing additional opportunities for early childhood education for Barbadian children.
Government representatives joined officials of the Trust for the formal opening of the Maria Holder Nursery School in Gall Hill, Christ Church, a modern, state-of-the-art facility catering to up to 150 students between the ages of three and five.
The Gall Hill school is the largest of the six, with the other facilities expected to accommodate between 90 and 120 students.
The Trust’s second school will open next Friday in Oldbury, St Philip, and will begin to welcome children at the end of this month.
Construction on schools at Government Hill, St Michael; Holders Hill, St James; Sayers Court, Christ Church and Deacons, St Michael will begin between “sometime this year” and next year, with the project set to be completed in 2020, Trust Chairman and co-founder Christopher Holder said.
“What this means . . . is that every child of nursery school [age] will have the ability to be educated. That is an achievement for this Government and we are delighted that the Maria Holder Memorial Trust is a part of that,” Holder told the audience, which included Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, Minister of Education Ronald Jones and other Government ministers.
Holder added that by June this year the Trust would have trained about 75 nursery school teachers, including special needs teachers.
The trust chairman did not provide the cost for the buildings, being constructed in conjunction with the Ministry of Education. However, the estimated cost has been placed at approximately $2 million each.
Prime Minister Stuart expressed gratitude to the Trust for the construction of the learning institutions, saying the Government and people of Barbados were “blessed” by the charity’s “warm generosity”.
Stuart said there are currently 11 public nursery schools and 50 nursery units at 50 primary schools here, catering to approximately 2,200 students, in addition to “a large number of three to four-and-a-half year-olds [who] also access tuition at private nursery schools”.
The Prime Minister pledged Government’s continued commitment to the provision of early childhood education, while acknowledging the United Nation’s World Declaration on Education for All, which affirms the expansion of early childhood care and education as its first goal.
“All over the world it is recognized that, while much is expected of governments by the people whom they serve, in order to meet the multiple needs of the populace, governments must be able to count on the support of the private sector and the benevolence of friends of the nation,” Stuart said.
The Maria Holder Memorial Trust is expected to embark on the development of a nursery school in Antigua and Barbuda later this year, followed by more schools in other regional territories.