CDB Approves US$43 Million for Bahamas Education Project
By Sherrica Thompson
January 11, 2023 – The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) said it will be putting in US$43.3 million to construct a brand-new comprehensive school and rehabilitate two others in East Grand Bahama to accommodate students whose schools were destroyed by Hurricane Dorian in 2019.
The Bank’s Board of Directors approved the loan to the Government of The Bahamas at its meeting last month.
Some 2,000 teachers and principals will also be trained in learning recovery and enhancement to support student-centred, differentiated accelerated learning to address the learning loss occasioned by the impact of COVID-19.
The total cost of the project is US$48.08 million, and the Government of the Bahamas will be contributing a fund of US$4.76 million.
The CDB said the facilities will fill the critical need that arose in East Grand Bahama after Hurricane Dorian’s passage destroyed four schools in the area. These are the East End Preschool in Freetown, the East End Primary School in High Rock, the East End Junior High School in McClean’s Town and the All-Aged School in Sweeting’s Cay.
“As a result, for much of the past three years, students have been forced to rise as early as 4:00 a.m. to make the over 60-mile commute by bus and ferry to Freeport to access educational services. The lengthy commute has made it challenging for students to keep up with their schoolwork, challenges that were further exacerbated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on schooling,” the Bank said.
According to the CDB, when completed, the new comprehensive school complex will include a multi-purpose hurricane shelter. The shelter will be designed to function as a cafeteria during school hours but can be seamlessly transitioned for use as a hurricane shelter in the event of a natural hazard event.
CDB’s Division Chief, Social Sector Division, Dr. Martin Baptiste, while on the project, highlighted its potential social benefits.
“Given the intersectionality between the home, community and the school, the investment in new school infrastructure will also play a significant role in the general improvement of respective communities, enhancing skills training programmes, social protection initiatives and promoting social cohesion,” Baptiste said.
The CDB did not provide a date for when construction for the project would begin.
FBI and Bahamas looking into woman’s death
#TheBahamas, March 17, 2023 – The FBI is investigating a woman’s ‘suspicious’ death on a Carnival Cruise ship in February. The unnamed woman and her husband boarded the Carnival Sunshine on February 27th, for a trip to the Bahamas, but she was dead before they arrived in the port in The Bahamas.
The FBI said Carnival’s team had administered life saving measures when the woman was reported unresponsive, but they were unsuccessful. The body and the woman’s husband were released to the Bahamian authorities when the cruise arrived in the country.
In a statement shared with US media houses, Carnival Cruises claimed the death has been a natural one. The Nassau Guardian said a source told them the police findings had concurred with that assessment saying it was a “normal sudden death of a tourist who wasn’t feeling well.”
The FBI was waiting for the cruise and when it got back to South Carolina on March 4th, they immediately boarded and began to investigate the room based on ‘evidence of a crime.’ The FBI also searched the couple’s car.
No updates have been shared to contradict the currently established cause of death.
Why Sargassum Matters
#TheBahamas, March 17, 2023 – “If you don’t like it, go to another beach!” Is what Aaron John, an Education Officer from The Bahamas National Trust jokingly tells our news team about sargassum blooms; his quip, motivated by the necessity of nature when pit against the notion that there is a real threat when the stinky seaweed makes its annual appearance.
John can admit, he says, that Sargassum isn’t very pretty but life isn’t all about aesthetics and in this instance that ugly patch serves a purpose.
“We love our sandy beaches, but in order to keep them we need Sargassum. When storms come, they wash away all the sand off the beach but sargassum acts as a mulch to protect the sand from water erosion. It doesn’t look good, it doesn’t feel good but we need it.”
He said it also provides a habitat for small crustaceans, crabs, and insects that are all necessary to our ecosystem and islanders have found use for the weed.
“Historically, (in The Bahamas) we have been using sargassum as fertilizer, especially in the family Islands as far back as I know,” he said. “Birds don’t go on the beach unless there is Sargassum and what do they do? they feed – it’s beautiful.”
He encouraged residents to just leave it be if they came across it.
Sargassum isn’t harmful to humans, except for people with respiratory issues who may find the rotten egg smell triggers asthma. Despite this, it’s not advisable to walk through the weeds which may hide sharp rocks and bottles or vulnerable animals.
Experts say Sargassum blooms began to increase in size around 2011 and have continued to get bigger and bigger since. This year‘s bloom is around 5000 miles long and 300 miles wide and visible from space.
“I know it’s not a general outlook, but I would like to change the perspective on sargassum,” John said, pointing out The Bahamas National Trust is actively working to decrease alarm over the less worrisome events like sargassum as it raises the profile on the environmentally devastating.
Lease agreement approved for diaspora office
#TurksandCaicos, March 17, 2023 – The Turks and Caicos’ Bahamas Diaspora Office is moving closer and closer to opening day, following the Cabinet’s approval for the signing of a lease agreement.
The lease will be signed with FINCEN ltd in the Bahamas. Several weeks ago, Arlington Musgrove, Minister of Immigration confirmed to our news team that the location had been found and was being finalized; now a lease is approved at the Cabinet level.
The interest in the TCI from TC Bahamians was evident in the diaspora meetings held in early February. The two meetings held in Nassau and Grand Bahama were completely full and over-subscribed by hundreds.
It’s interest which the Government hopes will translate to real life population growth, bolstering the local population before the native population ‘goes extinct’.
The Opposition PDM is on the record with what it feels is a far more viable solution to a dwindling native population; seek out the country’s own citizens and bring them back home.
Cabinet did not state when the office will open.
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