In recent years, completing school repairs before the school year has been a challenge for the Ministry of Education, however, Minister of Education Jeff Lloyd confirmed Thursday that things will be different this year as repairs are already set to begin.
Lloyd explained that the Ministry of Works is responsible for all school repairs in New Providence and that the Works Minister Desmond Bannister has given him his word that schools will be ready.
“The minister has assured us that the contracts have been signed and are being signed this week and the mobilization will be given to those contractors this week,” said Lloyd.
“We also know that many of those contractors would have already begun the work because they need about six or seven weeks to get the large scope of work done in the respective schools.
“The smaller contractors are waiting on that mobilization and I have been assured that that mobilization will be provided this week, before the 3 of August, at which time they will have essentially four weeks to get the work done.”
Lloyd said Family Island schools will also be ready in time for fall semester.
“Those scopes of works have already gone, contracts have already been signed, money has already been sent to the administrators in the respective islands,” he said.
“Contractors have already been chosen so they are on their way with the work at this particular time. I am very confident at the moment that although we don’t have any room for delays at this point, school will be ready for September 4, 2018.”
But while infrastructure works are underway, the shortage of teachers is still something the ministry of education is grappling with. Lloyd said, “The difficulty is that we have those specific subject areas like agriculture or technological areas or science and mathematics that we usually have some challenge with a shortage of teachers,” he noted.
“Those are being addressed this year, certainly not to the satisfaction of us in the Ministry of Education but, we are doing the best that we can.”
But there is a silver lining, as the minister said new hires, albeit small, are in the near future.
“I am happy to report that there will be 205 new teachers coming into the system. We have gotten financial clearance for them and they will fill a very important need,” he said.
“We also have many returning teachers, several hundred, many of those throughout the Family Islands, who have been approved by Cabinet to return come September 2018.
“We are going to seek to put in the hands of every single pre-schooler and primary schooler, a tablet. At this point, we have funds for 85 per cent of those and we are looking for sponsors for the remainder.” said the Minister.
“Every school in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas will be a smart school by the end of June 2019.”
This article was written by TAJARO HUDSON, Eyewitness News intern.