The ongoing repairs at some of the schools throughout the country will not interfere with students’ learning, said Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd yesterday.
Lloyd toured nine schools throughout the morning.
“Yes, there are still things to be done, but listen, nothing is interfering with the opening of school today,” he said while at C. V. Bethel Senior High on East Street South.
“…There’s work that’s going on and of course it is going to continue. The garbage [has] to be removed, and you know [there are] still some things that need to be tightened up but we’re ready to go.
“School is open. We’re happy for that. Kids are excited. We’re looking forward for a great year.”
However, Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) President Belinda Wilson who was also at C.V. Bethel, lambasted the last-minute repairs.
Wilson noted that she and a delegation toured seven schools in New Providence on Saturday and expressed satisfaction in the work that has been completed but said she hopes school repairs will be done in a timelier fashion in the future.
“The majority of the schools that are open and moving, there are some minor repairs still going on; there is some cutting of the grass still going on, “ Wilson said.
“So I’m hoping really, for God’s sake, like next year, there’s a change, an improvement where the first day of school, you are still not running around to see whether the physical plant is ready,”
“…So, it’s a lot going on and we hope that in the future it will be better organized and we will be able one year to say, ‘We had a smooth opening.’”
She added that there has to be a better way to get schools repaired in time for the yearly opening.
“We would have recommended to the Ministry of Education before that they should have their own maintenance section, their own maintenance team, so you would have ongoing maintenance and even in addition to that, the major work you will be able to identify early in the year and have those works started, prior to a week or two before school starts,” Wilson said.
“I mean if we say that we are moving into the 21st century, if we say we are going to get smart schools, then we need to start working smart.”
At Eva Hilton Primary School in Oakes Field, the sound of construction greeted parents and students as they arrived.
Lloyd explained that work was still being done on the school’s snack shop, among other areas.
The areas that will not be in use will be cordoned off from the students.
Eva Hilton is among several schools that have undergone major renovation in recent months.
Asked whether the noise from the surrounding construction in the school will be a distraction to the students, Lloyd assured that it will not be an issue.
The school’s principal, Jermaine Butler, said that repairs have been ongoing for months and noted that the school has put in the necessary safeguards to protect the students.
“We have been operating under these circumstances since April, actually, where we had areas cordoned off and work taking place, so we kind of were ready for that, with the exception of the preschoolers, who would have just come in for the first time but we are ensuring where tightening needs to be done it will be done,” Butler said.
“And we have the type of parents who will come and tell us and point out specifically, and those are the things that we are actually looking into.
“So tomorrow, it will be even more secured than today is and today is pretty much secured.”