Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Fred Mitchell in a statement Sunday demanded an answer from the Ministry of Education as to why it has not approved the generous offer of the private design and build of a new administration building for Sandilands Primary School.
According to Mitchell, the new administration building should also be able to accommodate a 40-child preschool.
“I am forced to bring this to the attention of the minister, given a recent photograph published by him of children welcoming him to a preschool,” Mitchell said.
“The children of Fox Hill would love to have the opportunity to do so as well. When we lost office, the plans were before the previous minister. I brought the fact of those plans before the present minister. Almost a year has gone by since the general election and not one nail has knocked.”
Mitchell said he has had conversations with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), which indicated in a report, that only 34 per cent of the three to four-year-old birth cohort, actually access preschool education.
“This is woefully in adequate. It has knock on effects throughout the system with only 45 per cent of the children passing the Grade Learning Assessment Test (GLAT) and thus, 55 per cent were not qualified to enter high school for the reporting period, according to the CDB,” he said.
“We also know that preschool is essential to get a jump on formal education. It makes a huge difference to the academic success rate in school. The catchment area has a demand higher than can be met.”
According to Mitchell, Thelma Gibson – the closest school – can only accommodate 40 preschool students per year.
The chairman also said that Sandilands Primary School faces other issues including the fact that nearly a third of the students coming into grade one, are children of immigrants. He claimed the students lack language and basic social skills necessary to receive instructions in the first grade.
He also lamented the fact that first grade teachers have to do double the work, as they have to complete the work of preschool teachers, often delaying the scholastic progress of other students.
“The need for the preschool is critical and since we have this generous offer outstanding, the ministry must respond,” he insisted.