Load shedding could be a problem for schools

As load shedding drags on with no immediate end in sight, the Ministry of Education and the Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) yesterday expressed “deep concern” about how students and teachers will be able to function when schools on New Providence re-open in two weeks.

Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd said that the constant power outages affecting the island is “a crisis” and “a deep concern to everybody”.

He said the Ministry of Education is going to have to find a way to manage the outages when schools reopen.

“If our power is going out obviously it’s going to have a negative impact on school,” Lloyd said.

“Now, a lot of these schools, like the Uriah McPhee [Primary School] or the Stephen Dillet [Primary School], these are air-conditioned facilities. If there’s no air condition, the students cannot be inside, so that certainly is going to have an impact.”

While noting that it may not be easy to find available space to accommodate students, Lloyd said the government would consider utilizing spaces like the stadium to host classes.

“We’re just going to have to go through it,” he said.

“It seems as if the practice is two to three hours of loss of power on a given day.

“That can be managed, but if it’s twice a day or more than that, that’s going to be a problem for us.”

BUT President Belinda Wilson described Bahamas Power and Light’s (BPL) daily load shedding exercises, which sometimes lasts nearly four hours, as “a major problem”.

“Yesterday, I was in a brief discussion with a principal who was also concerned because in addition to the light in a lot of our schools the water and the telephones go with electricity,” Wilson said.

“So, it’s going to be a major concern and then the concern also is even more for the primary [students] or preschoolers because if the electricity is off the entire morning, you won’t be able to keep students in school.”

Wilson said her union will keep “a watchful eye” on the issue and determine how to move forward without negatively impacting students.

Since May, residents on New Providence have suffered through hours of constant load shedding exercises as BPL attempts to meet the high demand for electricity.

At peak consumption, BPL faces a generation shortage of 40 megawatts (MW), according to BPL CEO Whitney Heastie.

Schools reopen on September 2.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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