School rehabilitation works will get a boost from $630,000 allocated via a Schedule of Additional Provisions that the House of Assembly passed July 13, according to Education, Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Sharie de Castro.
“I have personally visited every single school in the territory,” Ms. de Castro said during the debate on the SAP. “It is evident and clear that our schools need significant rehabilitative works. The majority of our schools are decades old, and due attention must be placed to ensure the safety of students and teachers across the territory.”
The SAP supports budget increases for education already in the original 2023 budget, which allocated $4.1 million for the development of Jost Van Dyke Primary School and Multi-purpose Education Facility and $1.6 million for rebuilding the Eslyn Henley Richiez Learning Centre, among other projects.
Ms. de Castro said she had hoped to make use of more of the summer break for rehabilitative works if the SAP had come through sooner, but officials now plan to make the most of the time they have left before school restarts.
After that, she said, crews will have to make the most of weekends and other scheduled breaks.
Ms. de Castro also noted ongoing issues with mould in some buildings.
“The ministry has taken the position that we ought not just to remediate mould, but we must find the root cause of the mouldy situations in our schools,” she said.
One key step is ensuring roofs are watertight, according to the minister.
Other planned works
Also on the agenda for this summer are plumbing work, electrical work, painting, window and door installation, and fence construction, she said.
Ms. de Castro added that she hopes these works will help to address teachers’ concerns about working in undesirable conditions.
This SAP also supports filling critical positions in school administration, Ms. de Castro said. She added that these roles are “extremely critical” to facilitate ongoing improvements to school programmes.
The funding will also support special education programmes and the so-called “STEAM” fields of science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics, according to the minister.
Her ministry also plans to use the additional funding to better support teacher recruitment and teacher trainees before the coming school year.
“Of course, we know there is a global teacher shortage,” Ms. de Castro said. “The competition is extremely high, and within the confines of the salary scales, we believe that there is room to attract the talent that we need. However, additional funding was required.”