Schools inspected ahead of opening; Ministry of Works to pursue ‘preventive’ year-round maintenance

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NASSAU, The Bahamas –The Ministry of Education and Technical & Vocational Training is anticipating a “paradigm shift” in the delivery of education as teachers, students and administrators prepare for public schools to reopen on a fully virtual basis.

“It’s quite an experience because you know this is the place where our nation’s children will come and gather, where their intellect will be stimulated, where there [is] camaraderie with fellow students, where teachers will impart. It’s such an incredible, dynamic space. We’ve tried very hard to make it as facilitative as possible.

“The contractors have worked very hard, and the Ministry of Works — we’re very appreciative of the work being done and we look forward to a paradigm shift in the delivery of education in terms of the outputs of our children.”

The Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin made the comments as she, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis; Minister of Works and Utilities the Hon. Alfred Sears; and Minister of State for Education and Technical & Vocational Training the Hon. Zane Lightbourne inspected several primary and junior high schools in New Providence, January 10, 2022.

Schools visited: Uriah McPhee Primary, Claridge Primary, L.W. Young, Ridgeland Primary, Yellow Elder Primary, C.W. Sawyer Primary and Sybil Strachan Primary. The Hon. Zane Lightbourne looks forward to students returning to face-to-face learning: “I’m also looking forward to the completion of all of these projects around our Family Islands. The work doesn’t stop here, the work continues,” he
said.

The Hon. Alfred Sears said his Ministry will be in consultation with Minister Hanna-Martin regarding maintenance of schools.

“There needs to be, as the Prime Minister has directed us, preventive maintenance. We cannot wait until the physical plant is collapsing and we know that the summer period is a very short time especially when we’re dealing with years of neglect and structural challenges for many of the plants.

“We will be looking and talking to colleagues [for a] proposal for a preventive maintenance program so that we can have year-round repairs, small repairs, so that we are not faced with this very short window with major structural effects, the result of neglect,” said Minister Sears.

“I also want to thank the contractors, especially some of the contractors who came in on emergency basis and have been working over the Christmas holidays, also working 24 hours in shifts; we’ve seen within the building industry this extraordinary professionalism and excellent craftsperson-ship as we have viewed some of the projects. I’m very happy due to this collaboration that the [school physical] plants are ready under these extraordinary circumstances to meet the objective that the Cabinet set and the Minister of Education has announced.

“The physical plant was not ready in September and therefore we’ve had to redouble our efforts but we’re looking forward to improving the way we address these issues of maintaining physical infrastructure through preventive maintenance.”

Minister Sears also acknowledged the architects, engineers and quantity surveyors who have also served in many instances as project managers.

The Ministry of Education has decided that all public and private schools (including preschools and daycare facilities) may open in January 2022 on a fully virtual basis, only. The decision would be revisited in short order following a further assessment in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

Source: Bahamas Information Services
By Kathryn Campbell