Minister says mid-term, fun days to be cut out to make up instructional time
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The price tag for the repair of schools in Abaco and Grand Bahama in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian stands at $20 million to $25 million, Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd revealed yesterday.
Outside the Churchill Building, the minister said all the schools in the affected areas were opened since the devastating storm, but there were challenges at the Central Abaco Primary School and Patrick Bethel, which will take another nine months to ready.
“That is going to be ready in September 2020, especially Patrick Bethel; maybe about a $4 million upgrade repair, so it’s quite significant,” he said.
“It won’t be ready for a long time.”
Asked about funding the repairs, Lloyd said: “It appears as if there will be some funding from the consolidated fund, but a good much of this will be coming from donors, non-governmental organizations, foreign, as well as locals, who have offered to assist in repairs.”
Lloyd said his ministry has requested a revision of its budget and was in the final stages of preparing a supplemental budget.
“As you know the deputy prime minister has targeted… borrowing in the upcoming year 2020 to fund a huge deficit part of which is as a result of Dorian
He continued: “Well, we have prepared a budget of about $20 million, $25 million for the repairs in Abaco and Grand Bahama, but as I had said some time ago, you know, as the scopes of work coming from Ministry of Works on what exactly the damage is; I could expect that those numbers may potentially increase.”
Lloyd also touched on the challenges to restore water to the schools in Grand Bahama.
“That’s been a challenge,” he said.
“There is still a salinity content that is little bit of on the acceptable nature. I know we have been trying to get the water tables repaired by running water off and opening taps, and so on.”
Lloyd said: “You know that there are a number of NGO’s, foreign NGO’s like Water Missions in Grand Bahama that is making available some thousands of gallons of potable water every day for schools and others who may need it, but that water situation is definitely a challenge. It has not prevented schools from operating, but it certainly has been a challenge.”
Asked about the storm, which affected and estimated 30,000 people, could impact the upcoming BJC and BGCSE examinations, Lloyd said there were some initial concerns.
He commended the teachers and administrator for their work in providing extra classes of weekends, including Sundays to make up for the lost time.
He said the virtual schools as a result of the ministry’s digitization program has paid dividends with displaced students being able to catch up via the “one on one program” launched by the Bahamas Telecommunications Company.
“So essentially, I think we’re going to be okay,” Lloyd said.
“As you also know, we have shortened some of the days we would have had as discretionary days. For instance, midterm breaks, as well as when we have those fun days and other days, we have cut those out so that we can make up more instructional time.”