Ministry of Education & PWD moving ahead to improve school campuses

The Ministry of Education, supported by the Public Works Department, is moving ahead with efforts to improve conditions at school campuses on St. Kitts. 

To this end, the work that was promised to begin on addressing infrastructural and environmental health concerns at the Cayon High School campus. 

This work commenced on 13th June, 2024.

As part of this project, the school’s drainage systems will be repaired, doors, windows, railing and other damaged fixtures will be replaced and roofing on some of the buildings will be repaired. 

Most importantly, a mould issue that was identified will be rectified when the school is professionally cleaned and sanitised.

Ahead of the start of the project,Melva Walters, Director of the Project and Building Management Unit in the Ministry of Education, said the variety of mould found was not dangerous, however out of an abundance of caution swift measures were taken to correct the problem.

“We would have discovered a possible mould issue, so we moved quickly to get the experts from the Bureau of Standards to visit the institution and conduct the relevant tests. 

“The samples were taken and sent off to get the results. The results revealed there were high levels of mould in some areas within the institution. 

“Having received the results, we promptly acted: we closed the institution and engaged in several site visits to help us pinpoint exactly what the issues are, where we need to focus our attention and what we need to do,” she explained.

Prime Minister Dr. Terrance Drew, who is also the Minister of Health and parliamentary representative for Constituency 8 in which the school is located, said his administration takes the health and wellbeing of the school’s faculty and students seriously and would implement measures to ensure all schools remain in good repair. 

In April this year, he noted that the Ministry of Education will be developing its own Maintenance Unit with a view to staying ahead of repairs the Public Works Department may not be able to address as quickly.

“ I know that education has put together a team, call it a maintenance team, in the Ministry of Education. It has nothing to do with Public Works because we want a team to be able to be focused on schools.So that team within the Ministry of Education is responsible for making sure that our schools are maintained and these things don’t occur. That is a new policy by this government,” said Prime Minister Drew.

Meantime, Public Works’ Director, George Gilbert, is calling on contractors to come forward and submit bids for the reconstruction of the Joshua Obadiah Williams Primary School in Molineux.

The school was razed to the ground by fire in 2022.

Gilbert said the first round of the public bidding process was unsuccessful as of the four submissions, two were incomplete.

He noted that the school’s reconstruction will be a major undertaking that his department is committed to getting done right. This he said means ensuring that the winning bidder can fulfil the contract while ensuring that the public’s resources are managed responsibly.

Based on the challenges identified in the first round of bidding, including contractors’ apparent inability to secure a performance bond, the Joshua Obadiah Williams Primary School project will now be divided into three sections.

“Companies can now bid on one block or two blocks, which means that their risks will be smaller, their performance bond and insurance will be smaller, so they may be able to manage that aspect better,” Gilbert said.

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