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A section of Girls High School on Thursday, April 25, 2024.
A section of Girls High School on Thursday, April 25, 2024.
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The government is nearing the completion of extensive repairs of Bequia Community High School and St. Clair Dacon Secondary School but there is still no definite word on when repairs of Girls’ High School (GHS) are likely to be completed.

The GHS is nearing the end of its third consecutive academic year in the temporary campus at Arnos Vale and the government is yet to settle on a final design for the school’s iconic Grimble Hall at its century-old Richmond Hill Campus.

This week, for yet another time, flea drove the GHS and the Thomas Saunders Secondary School (TSS) from their temporary campuses at the tarmac of the decommissioned ET Joshua Airport in Arnos Vale.

The schools are expected to resume classes at the location on Monday, following a treatment of the facilities by health officials this week.

On Wednesday, Minister of Education Curtis King noted that in March 2022, the government launched at the GHS a project to improve schools across the country.

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“I like to refer to it as special school improvement, given the quantum of monies involved and the substantive work that is being done at the institutions,” he said on NBC Radio.

King said that since then, work was completed on the Barrouallie Anglican, Barrouallie Government and the St. Vincent Grammar schools.

“We are presently working on the Girls’ High School. Of course, we have had challenges and trust me, these challenges, they have been real challenges,” he said.

“But like I’ve said always, we study these challenges and we try to come up with workable solutions,” King said.

“We have had to make substantial adjustments to the design for the famous Grimble Hall.”

King said the government has received new designs for the iconic hall.

“But I tell you, it is very expensive. And with the resources we have, we can’t complete that design…” he said, adding that the government has asked that the design be reviewed to reduce the cost.

“Additionally, … what we are recognising, especially in the business wing area, woodlice is there; it’s a challenge,” King said, adding that this is “a serious issue affecting several schools in our country… 

“It does not make sense for you to do a complete overhaul of the buildings that constitute the high school campus and then leave that problem because it will just reoccur and provide challenges and require you to spend scarce resources. So, we have decided that we are adding these to the project.”

The education minister said this means that the project has been varied, again.

“So, we have secured some resources that would adequately cover the work we want to do on the Byron block as well as the business section.

“I’m saying we are still waiting for a review. It is being done now of the Grimble Hall and the work that is being done on the Norma Keizer section, the science lab,” he said adding that the Coutts Building is “practically finished” but there is still work to be done on the science lab.

“So, yes, it has been a challenge with the Girls’ High School. But let us do it properly one time because resources being scarce, we have to get good one time because you don’t know when we will be able to revisit that.”

Meanwhile, King said that contractors are in “the final stages of the completion” of St. Clair Deacon Secondary School.

“Of course, we have some challenges because one of the challenges I find in St. Vincent and the Grenadines with some of our contractors is the issue of capacity to get things done.”

The minister said he visited the school sites regularly, adding that while the Ministry of Education has to depend on other agencies to do the physical work, “whenever anything goes wrong, fingers are pointed at the Ministry of Education”.

King said that from his observation and the reports, the St. Clair Deacon Secondary School project should be delivered long before September.

“… part of the problem there, definitely, is one of the contractor there. So, we are hoping that things would work out smoothly. But that is really in the final stages…”

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Minister of Education, Curtis King in an August 2022 photo.

He said the Bequia Community High School, formerly the Bequia Anglican High School, is also nearing completion.

“… we are in the final stage of preparation. It is touch and go … but we are hoping that the physical works could be completed by July. I mean that is the schedule we have.”

The minister said renovation of that school was supposed to have been a 12-month project that should have been delivered last December.

“But in all fairness, there were several variations that we had to do. There are several challenges in terms of coming out of that critical foundation period,” he said. 

“So, we had some setbacks, but like we always say, we don’t allow setbacks to keep us down.”

King said he is happy with the work being done at the Bequia school, adding that he believes that with a larger labour force, the contractor would be able to meet the timeline.

“What we are doing, basically, is rebuilding a school. Because it went far beyond what we had initially planned,” he said.

“…  when you get there now and you see certain issues that must be addressed, you don’t just look the other way and continue on your merry-go-round. Because these issues are going to come back to haunt you in the future.

“So, it is best that you adjust them despite the fact that you would get delays in terms of completion, setbacks in terms of when you want the students to move over,” the education minister said.

King said he was impressed with the work and was looking forward to speaking at the opening of the renovated school campus.

“… what we are doing in Bequia, we are ensuring that the students have at their disposal all the potential opportunities for them to realize their goals,” he said.