Barbados’ children continue to benefit from the wealth of a late Swiss woman who dedicated her life to helping young people and alleviating poverty on the island.
Today, the doors of the $4 million educational facility funded by the Maria Holder Memorial Trust were officially opened to the public at Oldbury, St Philip.
Construction for the Maria Holder Nursery School Oldbury building started in December 2015 and was completed by January 2017.
It was the third such facility funded by the trust established in 2004 by Christopher Holder and his brother-in-law Chesterfield Brewster and bears the name of Christopher’s late mother.
Six schools are to be created under the charity’s name. The first school in Sharon, St Thomas, celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2016 and the second institution in Gall Hill, Christ Church opened last January.
Presently, 72 three and four-year-olds are enrolled at Oldbury, with the number of students expected to increase to 90 in January.
The modern St Philip school was officially opened by Minister of Education, Science and Technology Ronald Jones and principal Sharon Knight who unveiled a plaque to mark the occasion.
Delivering the feature address, Minister Jones commended trustees and founders of the Maria Holder Memorial Trust for their unprecedented devotion to the youth and developing the education in Barbados.
“The government and the people of Barbados are extremely pleased, grateful and blessed that the trust has chosen to honour the great Maria Holder by their investment in the educational system of Barbados at the foundational stage,” Jones noted.
He also reaffirmed the ministry’s focus on early childhood education.
“The early years of children’s lives are important for establishing a firm foundation for future learning and for life in general. It is during the years that rapid physical, cognitive, social and emotional growth occurs. It is against this background that the provision of access to early childhood education worldwide has increased phenomenally,” he indicated.
According to Jones: “No child should be deprived of an education regardless of which station in life they come. All of our children should have the opportunity to be part of proper quality learning environment.”
Maria Holder first visited Barbados in 1974 and dedicated her life and wealth to assisting young Barbadians access educational opportunities.
Representing the board of trustees, attorney-at-law Michael Russell, said it was the desire of the founders to get involved in education. He said the Trust sought to continue to “build schools of the highest standard” for the youth of Barbados.
“I hope from the bottom of my heart that the children who go through this school, will enjoy the environment, the quality that has been built here and learn from the experience in order to get value from it for their future lives,” said Russell.