Major plans are in place for the educator sector, with millions of dollars to be spent on upgrading technology and repairing school plants across the island.
This was revealed by Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training Santia Bradshaw while speaking before the Standing Finance Committee today on a Supplementary for close to $22 million for that ministry.
Describing it as a “significant investment” Bradshaw disclosed that Government had committed $10 million to purchasing 20 000 tablets and laptops, which should be on the island in the “next couple weeks”. The minister said once here the equipment will be deployed across the educational system.
Bradshaw said 8280 tablets and 13,105 laptops were being purchased at an overall cost of US $14,141, 605.
She said primary school teachers would receive 2082 laptops, secondary teachers 2543 laptops, while 200 would go towards nursery teachers.
There will be 8 280 laptops for secondary school students.
Regarding next month’s planned start of school, the minister said everything was being done to ensure a smooth re-opening.
“We are a bit closer to where we need to be in terms of the new start for the school term. Again, none of us has that crystal ball to know what will happen. We have extended the Public Health Emergency and as such we are mindful that we are in a better position now in terms of the re-opening of school than we would obviously had been back in March.
“We’ve announced a tentative date of September 21 because we have to start somewhere. We have to position ourselves to let parents know we are doing the best we can to ensure that school can start,” Bradshaw said.
“We know it’s been hard, we know it’s been difficult for parents to have children home for this extended period and we are mindful that parents want to see their students and their children back in a structured environment, but we have to do so safely.”
Bradshaw said the refurbishment of school plants would continue with an additional sum of $1.25 million being used to complete major and minor work.
She said the problems included environmental issues, painting and refurbishment of roofs.
According to her, a decision had been made to focus on some key schools such as St Giles Primary and Vauxhall Primary School, which require extensive work.
Bradshaw said several schools were in dire need of electrical upgrades including Belmont, Wesley Hall, Westbury, St George Primary, St John Primary, St Christopher and Welches.
The minister said $4.4 million had been set aside for that project.
Additional work has also been planned for Wilkie Cumberbatch, Good Shepherd Primary School, St Alban’s and the Irving Wilson School.
The education minister said she was also determined to re-open the Alma Parris School adding that once repairs were completed it would be properly staffed to allow students to meet their full potential.
“We cannot have students leaving school without some kind of certification,” the minister said.
Bradshaw also revealed that Government was still in discussions with the contractor regarding the construction of the School Meals Centre in Six Roads, St Philip.
She said while the project was expected to be completed between 2012 and 2014, there were significant cost overruns by the last administration.
She said progress was being made and within next week an assessment of the disputed works would be made.