The Ministry of Education has signed two multi-million dollar contracts for the extension of the East Ruimveldt Secondary School and the Winefride’s Secondary School, as it confronts the issue of overcrowding.
The contracts – one valued at $175M for the construction of a single flat building at East Ruimveldt Secondary and the other, for the construction of an $85M two-storey building at St Winefride’s Secondary – were signed by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Alfred King, in the presence of the Education Minister, Priya Manickchand.
The East Ruimveldt Secondary was among a number of schools that forced to erect tents in an effort to accommodate an overflow of students in October.
Noting that the Government, in signing the contracts with Delph Construction and General Supplies, has made good on its promise to address the issue of overcrowding, Minister Manickchand said the issue, in part, was as a result of a number of policies implemented by the Government, such as the $30,000 Because We Care Cash Grant Initiative and Mission Recovery, which have resulted in more students attending school.
She applauded the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) for choosing a temporary solution that was in the best interest of the students.
“It took sober heads and people who wanted to work in the best interest of the children under their care to come up with sensible solutions that worked,” Minister Manickchand said as she addressed the students of East Ruimveldt Secondary.
The Education Minister said parents and teachers could have heeded to “reckless voices” who had no solution to the issue years ago and picketed the Education Ministry, but they did not.
“Everybody who didn’t had a solution last year or two years ago, now have the solution and could tell you how bad this is for the children, how tents wouldn’t work, how hot it is, how we don’t love the children but they don’t have the solution, and they did not have one when they had the power to put one in place,” Minister Manickchand said.
The extension, which is expected to be completed within five months, will house close to 300 students, the majority of them being Grade 7 students.
Over at the St Winefride’s Secondary School, the new two-storey building will be constructed by Singh and Son Construction Company. It promises to have a modern science laboratory which will be to the benefit of the students studying Integrated Science, Chemistry, Biology and Physics at the school.
“This building here is going to help us make sure not only we house the children who are currently here comfortably, but that we offer more services. We are putting down a science lab that is going to be equal to any other science lab in the country. We are going to refurbish your Home Economics and TVET labs,” the Education Minister said.
Minister Manickchand admonished the contractors – Rajiv Persaud of Delph Construction and Vickram Singh of Singh and Son Construction – to execute the projects with integrity, honesty and at a high quality.
Minister Manickchand said the move to expand existing schools and construct new one across the country are part of the Education Ministry’s quest to achieve universal secondary education.
Apart from East Ruimveldt Secondary and St Winefride’s Secondary, the Education Ministry also plans to rebuild the St. George’s High School, which was destroyed by fire, St Mary’s High School and North Ruimveldt Secondary School.
A number of other schools are also being extended, and new schools scheduled to be built in the near future.