Plans for the Barbados Community College (BCC) to accept close to 50 students from storm-ravaged Dominica have been abruptly scrapped.
Minister of Education Ronald Jones told Barbados TODAY this afternoon that his ministry had been informed by the Dominican authorities that the arrangement for the students, following the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria last month, was no longer necessary.
Jones said he was not given a reason by the Dominican authorities for cancelling the programme mid-way into final arrangements for their accommodation.
However, he speculated that efforts to restore that island’s learning institutions could be proceeding better than initially anticipated.
“I would hope that they are getting their education programme up and running shortly but I don’t know. Obviously they would be concentrating on doing that and I would be very happy for the students because this was a general outreach to 50 of them. There would have been cost associated moving people back and forth. Giving them a stipend would have been cost as well, but a lot of that was covered. But I am not sure why the other end brought it to a halt,” said Jones, who only two weeks ago was quite upbeat about final arrangements to accommodate the third-year students.
“It would allow our people here to concentrate on other issues within the tertiary level system. It was an outreach on our behalf but as I said there might have been some improvements on the ground situation there because it has almost been five weeks since Maria impacted the island. I know that more than 20 of the primary schools in Dominica, based on my conversation with their minister of education [Petter St Jean], are in workable condition. So most primary school children should be back in the classroom. Those other improvements all around could have caused Dominica to no longer go that route,” he stressed.
The minster insisted that Barbados was committed to assisting Dominica where possible, stressing that Dominican students already attending school here were free to continue their education.
“Those parents and students who already took the opportunity to be here would not be impacted. This was strictly a tertiary level to tertiary level initiative, so it would not affect any primary or secondary school children who are already here. They are not in any large numbers, but we have accommodated them,” Jones said.