Exumas and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper yesterday urged the government to move forward with school repairs on Exuma, which he said have yet to commence despite the government’s promise that all schools will be ready for the upcoming school year.
In response, Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd yesterday assured that work on schools in the Exuma constituency will be completed by the beginning of the academic year.
“It is patently ridiculous that after just announcing last week that schools will be ready for the upcoming semester, the government has yet to disburse the needed funds to do the work,” Cooper said in a statement.
“I visited the schools at Black Point, Mount Thompson, the Forest and L.N. Coakley High School, all of which are desperately in need of repairs that have not started.
“I have confirmed with several contractors that though they have signed contracts, the government has not sent mobilization money or any funding for the work.”
He added, “It is ridiculous that Exuma and her people are once again being neglected.
“Exumians pay taxes like everyone else in this Bahamas.
“What is the point of those taxes being paid to the public treasury if they are not used to maintain public buildings and further the public good?”
Lloyd, however, insisted that work will begin and be completed as scheduled. He said that the ministry does not show favoritism in determining which schools are repaired and when.
“Exuma enjoys the same attention, respect and focus as any other community, so God bless Mr. Cooper, and the people of Exuma have nothing to be concerned about,” Lloyd said.
“The schools will be ready. We have a schedule. The schedule is being adhered to.
“All schools cannot be, and all islands cannot be activated at the same time just as a function of process. As fast as the Ministry of Works gets out the contracts, the contractors begin. That process has been underway since the first of June. That’s the way the process is, and so those contractors in Exuma, like every other community, will be engaged according to the schedule of this particular process.
“There’s nothing to be concerned about. Everything is in order.
“We aren’t selective in the application of Bahamian taxpayer resources in the repair of schools or the delivery of education. Every student in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas is entitled to top quality education, every student, and that includes Exuma.”
Cooper also raised concern over the lack of a school facility on Ragged Island. The island’s school was destroyed during Hurricane Irma nearly two years ago, and has yet to be replaced.
“I would note that there is still no provision for a temporary school on Ragged Island despite there being a suitable building on the island,” Cooper said.
“Ragged Islanders could have had school in September, had the government cared.
“Instead, Ragged Island children will once again be sent away from their parents.”
It is unclear when the island’s new school building will be completed.