MESSAGE ON THE STATUS OF EDUCATION
BY MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND CULTURE
HONOURABLE MYRON V. WALWYN
It is my pleasure to greet all Virgin Islanders and give another update on the status of education in the Territory as we continue to move forward with rebuilding the education sector following the recent devastation.
The Ministry for Education is determined to ensure that all our children are back in school and exposed to the best education system possible as we prepare them for the future. As we are aware and stated in my previous updates, we were able to relocate the Elmore Stoutt High School to the old Clarence Thomas Limited (CTL) building. In addition, we made every effort to restore seven schools along with the three which received little or no damage (VISTS, Alexandrina Maduro and Claudia Creque Educational Centre) with the help of volunteers, our own local contractors and donors. With the help of agencies such as Convoy of Hope, UNICEF, ADRA, VISAR, Rotary and others, we were also able to provide warm meals for children across the Territory, school materials for both teachers and students, psycho-social care and equipment.
We are not where we would like to be but we are a far way from where we were in September and we will continue to rebuild. I am happy to give you an updated report on what is happening at present and moving into the New Year with our schools:
- We have had discussions with Mr. Peter Haycraft and Newton Construction who is representing him. They have started demolition and are finalising the plans for the new Enis Adams Primary School
- Discussions are ongoing with the North Sound Foundation for the rebuilding of the Robinson O’Neal Memorial Primary School. They are in the process of finalising the plans and they are working with a time-line of delivering the school for the start of the 2018-2019 school year.
We have had discussions with the West End Community and contracts have been signed for repairs to the Leonora Delville Primary as we work to ensure that we can get our students on that end of the island into a physical school building and out of the temporary tents we now have in place. One of our donors, Blue Ocean has graciously agreed to assist us in this venture. I want to assure the community that we will be working on the Isabella Morris School as well, which also had structural damage. As we look at the wider picture, the Ministry will be starting the conversation with the community on making one of these schools a junior high school, which will assist in reducing the number of students at the main Elmore Stoutt High in Road Town.
-Blue Ocean has also committed to assisting us with rebuilding the upstairs section of the building housing the library at the Jost Van Dyke School to allow for more space as school continues for the students there. They have also agreed in principle to assist us in building a new primary school for that community.
The costing of the roof for the Bregado Flax secondary has now been completed and we will be working with FLOW and Unite BVI to have construction completed as soon as possible. In the interim, we are working to ensure that the administration block and Kindergarten sections that are still experiencing leaks are fixed properly. We are also working on getting the wooden partitions completed to separate classrooms in the 4000 square feet temporary structure at the Bregado Flax Education Centre Primary.
The Elmore Stoutt High School has been operating under a shift system at the Old CTL building but as more students return to the BVI, we are cognizant of the fact that space will become a problem. As a result, we will be working on repairing the L-Shaped building facing the old Recreation Grounds. This four-storey building on its completion will house the senior students from Grades 10-12 and thus enable both groups of students to go back to a full school day.
The Eslyn Henley Richiez Learning Centre will be rebuilt. We are at present completing structural assessments and costing for that school as we make our way forward. In addition, the Enid Scatliffe Pre-Primary has now been assessed and Bills of Quantities are completed so that we can make our way forward with the repairs and relocation of the students. All other schools will continue to have the minor repairs completed as well as mold remediation as we move into the opening of school in January.
Our work with technology in the schools continues; this serves to ensure that our students continue to have the best education possible under the circumstances. The digital textbooks have been disseminated to all Grades 7 and 8 students and their teachers as a measure of enhancing instruction and learning. This is a costly venture and I am imploring parents to ensure that their children utilise these textbooks and treat them with utmost care. We also encourage all to make use of the Learning Hub from the primary to secondary levels. In addition, internet centres for use by the senior students at our secondary schools will be up and ready in January, thanks to the kind donation of 100 chrome books by the Jarecki Foundation.
Registration for the 2018 -2019 school year will begin on 2nd January, 2018 for all students seeking placement in the Virgin Islands education system and will continue until April 30th, 2018. Parents of children with Belonger's status are asked to note the change that the registration process will also end on 30th April. Application forms can be collected from the Ministry of Education located on the second floor of the Ward’s Building. Application forms will also be available at all pre-schools across the Territory. Parents please pay attention to the registration dates and submit your application forms for placement on time. We will be registering students in schools based on the home address stated on official documents submitted along with the application form until we are back to normalcy in the schools and in the Territory.
At the start of school in January we expect ALL students to return to school in uniform, whether it be the uniform of the school they are presently attending or the uniform of the school they were at before. Whatever it is, ALL students are expected to be in uniform on January 2 after the Christmas break.
It is important to note that since we had a later than usual start for school this year, the first term will end on 2nd February and there will be a one-week break for students before the second term begins on February 12th, 2018.
We want to welcome warmly to our shores, Mr. Ande Francis the new principal of the Virgin Islands School of Technical Studies. We wish for him every success in his assignment as principal of our growing technical school. The skills and expertise that he brings, having worked in management of similar organisations will definitely be of great help to the growth and development of our institution.
I wish to thank all the organisations and individuals who continue to assist us financially, in kind and time as well as with their prayers. The Ministry will do its best to build back better, greener and more resilient as we ensure our students continue on a path to excellence. In the midst of adversity we have been given an opportunity and the Ministry of Education and Culture is determined to make the best of it.
Thank you and I wish all Season’s Greetings and a productive 2018!