Starting in September, there will be an extra grade level in all public high schools.
To help accommodate the influx of students it will bring, government will hire more teachers and build more classrooms, Education and Culture Minister Myron Walwyn said this week.
Four two-storey buildings at Elmore Stoutt High School and one two-storey building at Bregado Flax Educational Centre will be erected, Mr. Walwyn told the House of Assembly on Monday. Each building will house 16 new classrooms.
Construction has not begun on the projects, but a master plan has been submitted to the Town and Country Planning Department, Mr. Walwyn said in an interview yesterday.
Curriculum to change
By NGOVOU GYANG
The public school curriculum has been revamped in preparation for the additional school year that will take effect in September, Education and Culture Minister Myron Walwyn said on Monday during a House of Assembly sitting.
“It is the intention of the Ministry of Education to ensure that our graduates … are able to successfully matriculate to any credible tertiary institution or be qualified for any entry level job in our economy,” Mr. Walwyn told legislators.
To help facilitate that goal, the MEC plans to offer the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination for grade 12 students who earn their Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate in Grade 11, Mr. Walwyn explained.
While preparing for the CAPE, 12th graders will also enroll at the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College, he said, adding that completing CAPE units will earn students HLSCC credit.
Grade 12 students who did not pass the CSEC in Grade 11 will continue “earning credits for graduation and earning community service hours,” Mr. Walwyn said.
The changes, he added, will make the Class of 2017 “the most qualified secondary students in the history of this territory.”
Teachers won’t be left behind, he added.
“The CAPE programme will begin at the secondary school in September 2016,” he said. “Select teachers will be trained by the Caribbean Examinations Council to teach the courses, and this training will take place shortly.”
The minister also announced plans to revise the scholarship programme to grant students scholarships at the end of their tenure at HLSCC instead of the end of high school.
He added that he is “pretty confident” the facilities will be constructed by September. The minister also noted that $3 million was earmarked this year for the ministry’s capital expenditures, the vast of majority of which will be devoted to the new classroom buildings.
Mr. Walwyn also said there have been allowances made to hire new teachers to account for the increase in students, but he was uncertain exactly how many would be needed.
He stressed the importance of “maximising the usefulness” of the existing workforce, and said teachers may see an increase in their workload.
Leaders have been making — and changing — plans to improve high school facilities for at least a decade.
In 2006, the National Democratic Party announced its intention to build a new high school on the eastern part of Tortola, and the following year then-Chief Minister Dr. Orlando Smith announced Paraquita Bay as the site.
A plan was drafted, but it was shelved after the Virgin Islands Party took over the government in August 2007. Instead, then-Education and Culture Minister Andrew Fahie said government hoped to have the former plan — which he said cost $1,624,174 — adjusted for use in Road Town.
In May 2009, Mr. Fahie revealed that government was in discussions with contractor STO Enterprises to build the new school at the existing ESHS campus.
Two years later, he said that the former plan was still being adjusted, adding that all but the newest buildings on campus would be replaced and that construction would happen in phases so students could continue to attend classes.
After the NDP returned to power later in 2011, however, government changed course again. Mr. Walwyn said in 2013 that plans for a new school had been suspended due to budget constraints, and instead work would go toward improving the current ESHS campus.
He said yesterday that the current eight-acre campus provides more than enough land for the plan they are working on.
“The problem that we’ve had at the high school is that if you look at it, you can see all the buildings are spaced out,” he said. “And it looks like the buildings were just placed down without any view of a master plan according to the layout. And we’re trying to really properly utilise the entire space.”
This article originally appeared in the April 21, 2016 edition.