TCI News

EU gives $3.34 million more to Turks and Caicos public schools

#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands, November 19, 2018 – Amidst a contentious negotiation season in the United Kingdom about its future with the European Union, a contract has been signed for more money to come to the public education sector of the Turks and Caicos through the EU’s development fund.

Nineteen months after signing a financial commitment of €14.6m for EDF11 monies to support education sector reform, there is additional funding which officials last Tuesday explained will offset the multi-million dollar bill of more resilient reconstruction of public schools.

Education Minister, Karen Malcolm welcomed Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska, Head of the Delegation of the European Union based in Kingston, Jamaica on her inaugural visit to the territory and thanked Her Excellency for this new show of backing for public school education.

“Today we are here to witness the ceremonial signing of a second phase of support from the European Union.  Following the passage of the hurricanes last year, the public school suffered a devastating blow with over 90 percent of all schools impacted.  The government made a commitment to rebuild our schools and other public buildings, but not to the standard that they were, but to build back better to be more resilient,” said the Minister.

Minister Karen Malcolm, in her remarks at the signing revealed that government has earmarked more than $12m over the next two years for rebuilding and for establishing a stronger system of response to disasters within public education.

Ambassador, Her Excellency Malgorzata Wasilewska explained that the Turks and Caicos’ request for increased support in the aftermath of the hurricanes of 2017 is what initiated this additional funding of €2.92m or USD $3.34m.

“The Education Sector has sustained severe damage from the hurricanes causing extensive damage to the school infrastructure and prompting the closure of all the public schools across the islands for several weeks,” said the Ambassador who also had commendation for TCIG and cited its swift response with alternative classrooms following hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The Ambassador added that two of her team from the EU’s regional office had visited for an assessment of the schools following the hurricanes.

“Being the largest donor in the TCIs educator sector, the European Union has further stepped up its support for the post hurricane recovery following your approach to us early in the year.  Today’s event is therefore a true demonstration of the commitment of the people of Europe to support the efforts of the Government of the TCI to bring the education sector back to normalcy.  This additional €2.92m from the 11th EDF Emergency Reserve has a clear objective to support recovery efforts in the education sector with a particular emphasis on resilient reconstruction and rehabilitation of damaged school infrastructure.”

In all, this means financial help from the ‘still 28 nations’ of the European Union to the tune of over $20m.

Premier Sharlene Robinson and Deputy Governor Anya Williams, who is also the EU Program manager for the TCI signed on behalf of the Turks and Caicos; both with comments of gratitude on behalf of the approximate 4,000 students who stand to benefit most directly from the overhaul.

“We have a very long and beneficial relationship with the European Union and we are extremely grateful that we continue to benefit and we stand again to benefit toward are energy sector as well,” the Premier who in February 2017 signed the EDF 11 financial agreement added that, “Today I am happier to receive the additional funding for the financing agreement that will continue to assist our schools in recovering and my government continues to take the position that our schools are take priority.  It’s important that we get our kids back in environments that are conducive to learning.”

Deputy Governor Anya Williams shared that there have been remarkable strides through the EDF 11 reforms; the three overarching goals were again outlined in her comments at the ceremonial signing on November 13, 2018.

“The program focuses on three key areas which are challenges but also objectives of ours.  The first is, of course, to increase capacity and that’s through the construction of a new primary school fully funded by the EU here in Providenciales.  The second of course is to increase teacher education and teacher learning by focusing on teacher training itself and I am very pleased with the progress we have been able to make in that area.  Not only has the requirement been that 25 percent of our teachers would be enrolled in service bachelor programs but we’ve exceeded that expectation because at this time there are no untrained teachers any longer in our government system.”

Deputy Governor Williams said the third objective is motivated by what the needs of the labour market.

“We are trying to and working hard to introduce more technical vocational programs across the islands.”

The signing of the EDF11 extra funding or addendum to the initial €14.6m was held at the Office of the Premier, Hilly Ewing Building, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands.

 

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