#Providenciales, March 29, 2019 – Turks and Caicos – As Acting Minister of Education, I must respond to the claims of the Former Minister of Education that the EDF11 Program signed by myself in Aruba last year February is 2 years behind. These claims are regrettably untrue and whilst we have experienced challenges from mother nature and man – made, we are pleased with the progress of the Program and was commended for this progress during the month of February this year whilst attending the EU Forum in Tahiti.
The Financing Agreement signed between TCIG and the European Union in February 2017 is in support of the Government’s plans to reform the education sector. It should be noted and understand that the reformation of the education sector is not limited to the new Primary School only, but it includes numerous areas which the Government committed to improve over the life of the agreement.
While it is true that the Government experience some delays in the commencement of the construction of the new Primary School in Long Bay, this is not to say that there are delays in other areas. For example, the Agreement made provision for consultancy to assist the Ministry in;
1) to develop a ten-year school infrastructure and equipment maintenance and modernisation plan for the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports and Library Services (MoEYSLS);
2) to build capacity within the Ministry/ Department of Education Schools to develop school maintenance plans and also to better monitor school infrastructure projects which is directly applicable to their school.
These initiatives are well underway, and since 2018/19 financial year, each School was provided with their own maintenance budget to facilitate minor and quick maintenance of their equipment and infrastructure. In addition, work is in advance stage by the consultant to adequately project the space need and resource requirements to ensure effective planning and financing well into the future to meet the needs of our students.
The Agreement also provided for a team of consultants to conduct a feasibility study and implementation strategy for the establishment of a National Technical Vocational Training Centre and Agency. This work is nearing completion and we are receiving a presentation from the consultant this week. Based on the results of the feasibility study, the Government will use this information as guidance in establishing a Vocational Education System in the TCI.
We have already seen a number of changes in reforming the Scholarship Policy, the reform of the School Curriculum for infants 1-4 with further revision of the primary school curriculum for upper grades in progress for completion by summer 2019. We have witness the introduction of CPEA to replace the GSAT exams and the introduction of CCSLC in the lower forms of High Schools in order to reform the way our students learn.
These are but a few examples of the depth of work which is involved in the reform of the Education System. In respect to the New Primary School, the apparent delay in the commencement of the construction was due to a number of factors;
1) The Ministry conducted an extensive survey of possible site locations to place the new school. Taking into consideration a number of factors, including but not limited to environmental consideration, transportation issue, size of land and proximity to a community. In the end the location was finalized to be Long bay.
2) Given the environmental sensitivity of the Government, before proceeding, the Ministry retained the services of an independent consultant to conduct an in-depth Environmental Impact Assessment which looked at all possible implications to the site and the neighboring environment, including potential noise impacts. The report provided a number of recommendations to mitiate the impacts which we are working to implement.
3) We also received challenges from community members and the elected representative and former Minister of Education Hon Akierr Missick about the location of the school. This further delayed the start of the School. The Government listened to their concerns, and held several meetings to better explain the details of the proposed plans. Wherever possible, we took on board some of the recommendations to mitigate and alleviate the concerns raised by the community members. We are pleased that now both the elected representative and the community members are now settled and the Project will be moving forward. Though we are behind in terms of timeline, we expect the building of the School to move forward quickly. We continue to enjoy much success under the EDF11 Program and my Government is grateful to the EU and the Government stakeholders for all the work done.
Hon Sharlene L Cartwright Robinson
Premier & Finance
The Turks and Caicos Islands