The Alma Parris Memorial Secondary, closed for nearly two years, is to be reopened – as soon as the Government comes into money, according to Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw.
The St Peter school, which catered to students who scored extremely low marks in the Common Entrance Examination and required remedial learning, was closed indefinitely at the end of June in 2017.
“As soon as we are in a position to have access to resources that will certainly be one of the institutions that we would like to get back up and running,” Bradshaw said as she appeared before the House Standing Finance Committee that considered the annual appropriation for education.
The Minister of Education suggested she was baffled by the closure under the Freundel Stuart administration.
She told parliamentarians: “I can’t speak to the thinking that was behind its closure. I know there were considerations in terms of the location and in terms of whether students were travelling quite a fair distance to be able to get to the school, but from reading the former minister’s comments obviously the intention was to bring about closure within a short time frame.”
She said the Alma Parris campus has outdated buildings in need of a “significant financial injection” to make the school suitable for students and faculty.
Bradshaw said: “That has been one of the concerns, cause while we would want to see the institution urgently put back into the market, that has been one of the issues that has certainly plagued us.
“I’m hoping that if we are able to obtain some funding through the CDB [Caribbean Development Bank] that we can put that certainly as a high priority.”
But the Minister of Education pointed out that a number of remedial units had been established at a number of schools across the island.
She said those units had been able to address some of the challenges of those academically challenged students.
Bradshaw said her ministry was now focused on upgrading the skills that can be taught across all of those schools.
She said: “In terms of upgrading the skills that are in the institutions, again that is high priority . . . . We have about three cosmetology units across the system right now and in the newer secondary schools. There has been tremendous response to that certainly and we have also looked at alternative exams as well for students who have had some of those challenges.”