By Herma Demacque: A contract signing ceremony was held recently between Construction and Industrial Equipment Ltd., Prudy’s Construction, and the Government of Saint Lucia. This signaled the commencement of works to improve the infrastructure of two schools in the Castries basin. New wings at the Gordon and Walcott Methodist and Vide Bouteille Primary School are being built to provide a more conducive environment for students and teachers.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development Michelle Charles said: “For the Ministry, it is more than just concrete classrooms and furniture but most importantly it is about the kind of future we can create for our country starting with our little ones. It is about giving students and teachers a reason to wake up and go to school on a morning. It’s about creating a safe space for our students who may not otherwise feel safe elsewhere.”
An important consideration being made in the design of the new school buildings is the ability for their use as shelters during disaster and emergency situations.
Hon. Dr Gale Rigobert, Minister for Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development explains that the existing structures will be transformed to SMART schools.
“When we say SMART schools, we mean schools that reflect a fined tuned understanding of multiple intelligences and the need to cater to children who are differently abled and superlatively intelligent. We recognize too that when we speak of SMART schools we speak of infusion of technology. We speak of the need to embrace renewable energy. We speak of the dual purpose that many of our schools on island serve. Not only do they serve an educational function, many of them are also emergency shelters and that therefore, compels us more than ever, to ensure that they are also climate resilient.”
Minister with responsibility for External Affairs and Parliamentary Representative for Castries Central Hon. Sarah Flood Beaubrun noting the importance of a conducive environment to learning said: “Housing affects almost every aspect of life. It affects, health, education, overall wellbeing. Poor housing leads to abused children and families. And what does poor housing have to do with today’s signing? A school needs a home, schools need good housing and we’ve known for so many years, decades in fact, that we have excellent teachers, that we have a people who are on par or perhaps even excel so many others but they need good housing to perform in their roles.”
The scope of works within the Project for Vide Boutielle Primary comprises the construction of a three-level reinforced concrete building consisting of a total floor space of 13,571 sq. ft. inclusive of teaching and administration space.
The lot size of the Vide Bouteille School is 43,044 sq. ft. which will accommodate the new structure.
The works at Gordon and Walcott Methodist will consist of a two-level reinforced concrete structure.
The site works will include improvements in the perimeter fencing, improved vehicular parking conditions and improved site access on the northern boundary, and refurbishing of the existing septic tank.
Hon. Stephenson King Minister for Infrastructure, Energy ports and Labor said one issue he hopes will be remedied at the Methodist School is the poor drainage system. “There is a drain that runs through the compound of the Methodist School and I can recall many years ago when attending the Methodist School how the playground flooded. We were often marooned as a consequence of the inability to get out unless your parent had a vehicle capable of navigating through the waters. I look forward to that problem being addressed under this project.”
The project plans include improvements to the drainage system of both schools.
Headline photo courtesy Scott Blake (Internet stock image)