Jones defends record in education
When it comes to education, the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) “ain’t making no sport”, says Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation Ronald Jones.
Jones, defending his decade-long record with that portfolio, stated that the aim was to move Barbados’ education system from its current ninth place to No. 1.
“Against the odds [this Government] continued to spend over $500 million in education in this country, about six per cent of the gross domestic product of Barbados and between 18 and 20 per cent of Government’s expenditure, reflecting that commitment long established in December of 1961 and put into play in 1962.
“All the important educational institutions in Barbados were done by the Democratic Labour Party – Samuel Jackman Prescod [Institute of Technology], the Barbados Community College, the University of the West Indies and it built more secondary schools than the Barbados Labour Party … and continues to do so,” the Christ Church East Central incumbent told the crowd gathered at Bay Street Wednesday night for the presentation of its 30 candidates in the May 24 election.
Jones said Blackman and Gollop Primary had been constructed during their tenure, secondary and primary school plants had been refurbished with $50 million spent on the latter, hard courts were built at several schools as well as improvements made to playing fields, including West Terrace Primary’s.
Government, he said, was committed to reconstructing “about six or seven” old plants, including Belmont, St Martin’s Mangrove and Wesley Hall schools, plus building the new secondary school. Furthermore, the “artificial divide” that existed at secondary schools had been closed with the addition of seven sixth form schools, ensuring that 3 000 students were now benefiting from tertiary education, up from 1 500.
Jones said 75 early childhood educators had been trained, some up to master’s degree level, “slightly over” 1 500 teachers were trained at Erdiston Teachers’ Training College and “for the first time in the history of Barbados, we appointed 1 246 teachers in this country”.
He also pointed to the opening of five nursery schools, some in conjunction with the Maria Holder Trust, the construction of others at Durants in St James, a 120-seater at Sayes Court in Christ Church, Deacons and the relocation of the existing Government Hill Nursery to “new and plush conditions” on the old Cooperative High School site in St Michael had already been approved.
Jones also said that the seven registered and chartered medical schools and universities were expected to pump more than $300 million into the economy at their height. (GBM)