KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent — A secondary school on the Southern Grenadines island of Canouan, where 18 students are in the Common Entrance class, is not worth the recurring expenditure.
This was the essence of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves’ pronouncements on the idea last Friday, when the government officially opened three buildings there.
Southern Grenadines representative Terrance Ollivierre, of the opposition New Democratic Party, raised the issue while addressing a ceremony to officially open the Canouan Administrative Centre.
He said that the island’s students “continue to face difficulties in their quest to obtain quality education on mainland St. Vincent, Bequia or Union Island.
“Definitely, there is a need to address this problem. … The time has come for us to address the situation of secondary school education on this island…” Ollivierre further said.
His dream is that the administrative building would some day be “fully staffed by personnel from Canouan: from the district officer to the clerical staff to the ancillary staff.
“And an effective education system that caters to the needs of all, despite your locality, would definitely ensure that this dream becomes a reality,” he said.
Ollivierre told the gathering that he had communicated with Education Minister Girlyn Miguel “to start the process so that our children, despite all the development that are going on here, will be able to ensure that they certainly benefit from it”.
But Gonsalves, delivering the feature address at the ceremony, said that Ollivierre needed not initiate anything in that regard.
He pointed out that there are 139 students at the Canouan Primary School, 18 of whom are in Grade 6 — the Common Entrance class.
Gonsalves presented a scenario in which there are 20 Grade 6 students each year for the following five years. He further said that half of these students are likely to go to school in St. Vincent, Bequia, or Union Island, where the government opened a new secondary school last year.
“It means that you would have on an average 10 or 12 students going to secondary school in Canouan. So, in five forms, you would have 60 students maximum after five years,” the Prime Minister said.
He further noted that the government would have to provide specialist teacher for all subjects.
“Now, I want to ask the question: should you have all five forms or should you begin with three forms? … It’s easy for persons to talk when they don’t have the responsibility to do anything …” Gonsalves said.
“… I happen to know that the bulk of the people of Canouan have common sense, intelligence and that they are grateful. … But I am not going to sit down and hear people talk things, where there utterances are unreasonable in all the circumstances,” he continued.
Gonsalves further spoke of his government’s universal access to secondary education policy.
“I am sure that every … single student from Canouan has a place in a secondary school. And we provide assistance … through the social welfare system for students and some from Canouan get,” he added.