Statement by Dr. the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley
Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture
at the Fifth Sitting of the Second Session of the
Fourth House of Assembly held on Thursday, 20th October, 2020
Minister Speaker, thank you for this opportunity to provide an update on some education matters. The main areas of focus during our professional development sessions is physical literacy for all and critical literacy. To promote physical literacy, Sports for Life Team and the BVI Olympic Committee graciously donated physical education equipment to the schools. I express my sincere appreciation to their generous donations. In addition to the training that took place in August and November 2019, the final training is scheduled for 4th – 15th May, 2020. We also held our annual Excellence in Teaching workshops for teachers on Tortola and Virgin Gorda also as a part of on-going professional development.
Discussions are still taking place with the Recovery and Development Agency (RDA), Mr. Speaker, as we seek to finalise the best design and layout for the remaining buildings for the Elmore Stoutt High School campus. We are also looking forward to starting the other buildings for the secondary school at Bregado Flax Educational Centre, formalizing plans for the new primary school in Jost Van Dyke and the rebuilding of the Eslyn Henley Richiez Learning Centre in the newly designated area. In all our efforts in this rebuild, our emphasis continues to be to build green, smart and for inclusion.
Mister Speaker, learning must take place in a disciplined environment and a clear structure is important for students. Our discussions continue to ensure that we make parents and students aware that we will not tolerate ill-discipline. Last week, in conjunction with the UNICEF, we hosted consultancies with all stakeholders as we began the review of the Student Code of Conduct 2006 and to develop a discipline policy for education. The meetings were successful, and we look forward to receiving the draft document for review in three to four weeks.
In the area of inter-school competitions, Mister Speaker, our students continue to showcase their giftings, talents and abilities at a high standard. Mister Speaker we held the Spanish interschool competitions last term with Francis Lettsome Primary emerging in first place, Althea Scatliffe in second and Claudia Creque in third place. This term the secondary school debates are taking place. Last night we hosted the semi-final round and we are now look forward to the finals during Education Week between the debating teams from the Elmore Stoutt High School and the CEDAR International School. I must say, Mister Speaker, that the students have been performing at a very high standard in this series of debates, and I wish to commend the principal and staff of the schools that are participating for such a high standard of preparation.
During this month, Mister Speaker, schools have been hosting their sporting competitions. The best athletes from each school will compete in the upcoming inter school athletic competition during Education Week 2020.
Mister Speaker, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture will be celebrating Education Week 2020 under the theme, “Engage, Encourage, Empower - Educate.” The week begins on Sunday 8th March with a talent extravaganza to be held at the Eileene L. Parsons Auditorium at HLSCC. Other activities throughout the week include Commonwealth Day activities at the Ivan Dawson Primary School, teacher exchange, inter-primary school sports competition and open house activities at all schools.
Finally, Mister Speaker, I know that persons have been awaiting an update on the recent incident involving a teacher and a student at the Ivan Dawson Primary School. I wish to state, Mr. Speaker, that this matter is presently in the hands of the Teaching Service Commission and other relevant bodies. When they have concluded their processes, they will make their recommendations for further action. The Ministry continues to take the safety of our children in the education system very seriously, and I will be forming a task force to review and strengthen our policies and procedures to ensure our children’s continued safety.
I thank you Mr. Speaker!