At the J.W. Fletcher Catholic Secondary School in Grenada, 217 boys and girls have been making do with inadequate space. Teachers and students work together creatively to make the best of the eight classrooms, spread across two blocks. But this arrangement is not suitable for optimal outcomes in the education sector in Grenada; nor does it meet regional best practice standards.
For this reason, J.W. Fletcher is one of six schools across the country that will be expanded or rehabilitated as part of the Grenada Education Enhancement Project (GEEP), funded by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
Teachers and students look forward to the construction of two new blocks whaich will provide three classrooms, administrative space, labs for Building Technology and Electronics, and rooms for Music, Art, Technical Drawing and Counselling.
GEEP was launched on June 15 in St. George’s, where Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell reaffirmed the duty of the Government and the right of the child to quality education.
“If we truly believe that every child deserves that kind of opportunity, and that every society deserves to have students who can access those kinds of opportunities, then our collective effort becomes extremely clear. Our work is to make sure that opportunity is not just a possibility, but a promise. Opportunity is a right that inspires educators to truly devote their lives to empowering our children. It is a right that encourages parents to expect their child will graduate from secondary school and college and succeed in life, even if the parents never had that chance themselves. A Government’s work is not done until we have lived up to that promise,” Dr Mitchell said.
In addition to J.W. Fletcher, other schools to be improved are Grenada Seventh Day Adventist Comprehensive, Bishop’s College in Carriacou, Presentation Brothers’ College, St. Joseph’s Convent, St. George’s; and St. Joseph’s Convent in Grenville.
The expansion and rehabilitation work is part of Phase One of the GEEP for which a loan of USD15 million and a grant of USD533,000 have been approved by CDB’s Board of Directors. It complements the Government of Grenada’s efforts to address the substantial need for improved education infrastructure.
“The implementation of the project will allow our Ministry to be better positioned to serve its stakeholders at all levels, and to take on a professional approach towards the conduct of the business of education. The country on a whole will benefit by way of improving the availability and relevant professional skills. It is therefore my expectation that the beneficiaries of this timely investment, will seize the opportunity to make maximum use of the opportunities afforded,” remarked, Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Anthony Boatswain.
Grenada was so badly affected by Hurricanes Ivan and Emily in 2004 and 2005 respectively, that some damaged schools have not yet been restored and some continuing to be housed in temporary structures.
Some of the country’s secondary schools, originally operated as primary institutions, must be expanded if the country is to achieve universal secondary education.
The Project also aims to enhance the quality, relevance and effectiveness of instruction and includes a component for training and professional development for approximately 1,700 teachers and principals.
Vice-President (Operations) at CDB,Patricia McKenzie, lauded Grenada’s work and leadership in education: “The experience of many countries has amply demonstrated the power of human capital development to expanding economic opportunities and reducing poverty. Likewise in Grenada, education attainment is strongly correlated with economic gains and lower poverty rates. Consequently, the government of Grenada has been investing approximately 5.2 percent of GDP annually on education, spending ECD102.1 mn, in 2015, higher than any other sector and among the highest in the OECS.
“As a consequence of the significant investment you have made in education, Grenada has made tremendous progress in reaching several measureable targets for basic education – achieving universal secondary education in 2012, reaching the Caribbean-specific Millennium Development Goals in 2015 and virtually eliminating enrolment disparities between males and females, you have demonstrated leadership in this area”, McKenzie said.
The Project is now officially underway, with construction expected to begin by 2017.