Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 17, 2017 (SKNIS): The Government of National Unity is ensuring that it invests in and safeguards the health, safety and security of both students and teachers, says Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Honourable Shawn Richards, speaking at the “Good Governance and Accountability for Prosperity” Town Hall Meeting on February 15 at Challengers.
Minister Richards said that in addition to the Basseterre High School (BHS), other school have been given much needed repairs and renovations.
The minister mentioned that for years there has been a dilapidated fence at the Washington Archibald High School (WAHS), which has now been fixed. The principal, students and teachers there raised concerns about security. He said that there were reports of people entering the compound during the day and night to vandalize the school and to cause fights among other things.
“Immediately, this Team Unity Administration spent some $163,000 to ensure that Washington Archibald High School now has proper fencing,” said the minister.
At Verchild’s High School, students were getting wet from the rain, which disrupted classes. The government in no time fixed the roofs, said the minister. At that school, the government also repaired the partitions in the auditorium, which were dilapidated, and put in acoustic partitions so as to prevent noise from disturbing the other classes. Several sections of the school were also painted.
Roofs at the Sandy Point High School were also fixed. The minister said that persons have reported to him that many wheel barrows of debris had to be removed when the roof was repaired. Work was also done on the flooring of the school. Painting and electrical work were also done. The school also received a donation of computers from the Rotary Club. Musical instruments were also given to the school to upgrade the music programme there. The Home Economics Lab there was also fitted with emergency exits.
At Saddler’s Secondary there was a bathroom block, which had been out of commission for years, said Minister Richards.
“It is shameful to know that for years now an entire bathroom block at that school could not be used, but it took a Team Unity Government to rectify that problem,” said the minister.
The school also received two mobile units, both air-conditioned, that it now can utilize as classroom space. The issue of privacy at the guidance counsellors’ room was also rectified. The minister said that there is now a modern guidance counsellor’s room at the Saddler’s Secondary School.
Minister Richards said that at Cayon High School, within the first year, the western block, where technical subjects are being taught, was completely refurbished and a brand new roof was placed there because of leaks. The music room was repainted and repairs were done. A block which was termite infested for years could not be used. Not only is the block being refurbished, but it will now sport a second level. Cayon High School can also boast of being the first high school that has received security cameras throughout the entire compound and those security systems are being installed at every high school in the federation.
“They are costing the government money, but it is an investment in the security of your children,” said the minister. “I have seen cases thus far where the principal has been able to detect persons vandalizing the property using the security cameras. We have had cases of students selling and trafficking drugs on the premises of the school and those security cameras have been used to detect some of those cases.”
Minister Richards said that there will be finger printing and electronic time systems implemented in both primary and secondary schools.
“So, when the teachers come, they can simply scan their finger prints and you would know the time they came to work and the time that they leave work,” said the minister. “This is also being used by the security officers, be it those in the day or the night.
The government has also purchased a computerized data system, openSIS (Student Information System) that will be used by not only the teachers and students, but the parents as well. It will track everything the child does as he or she enters the school system.
The minister said that the primary schools have not been left out in the course of renovations and repairs. Bathrooms are being fixed, storage facilities are being put in and cupboards are being installed or replaced in several schools.
A major upgrade is being done to one of the primary schools, the Irish Town Primary where a full conference room is being placed. The education minister said that the modern facilities will be used to aid in the training of teachers.