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Minister hails start of new school year in GB

photo

Jerome Fitzgerald

By DENISE MAYCOCK

Tribune Freeport Reporter

dmaycock@tribunemedia.net

FREEPORT – As many as 8,000 students returned to school in the public education system on Grand Bahama yesterday.

As part of a major relocation initiative spearheaded by the government, 200 students from Lewis Yard Primary School attended classes for the first time at a new campus in Hunters.

Minister of Education, Science, and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald was in Grand Bahama for the opening of the 2012-2013 school year.

He met with the teachers and administrators who attended a special forum at the St George’s High School, telling them they have a tremendous responsibility.

“I am delighted you are holding this forum to usher in the school year in such a positive and exuberant manner,” the minster said. “I have been focusing on the word ‘transformation’ and so I believe that you and I are on the same page in our anticipation of the change in education in Grand Bahama.”

Mr Fitzgerald told teachers about the recent restructuring of the Ministry of Education’s leadership team in Grand Bahama.

It included the appointment of Sandra Edgecombe to the new post of deputy director of education for Grand Bahama and Bimini; and the appointments of Mary Cooper as district superintendent for West Grand Bahama and Bimini, and Dorothy Kemp as the new district superintendent for East Grand Bahama and the Cays.

He promised that the same focused attention that is given to education in New Providence will be seen across the country this year.

Mr Fitzgerald reported that the government invested around $5.6 million in repairs ahead of the opening of schools in September.

“This investment is about $2.6 million more than the $3 million that was allocated in the government’s 2012-2013 Budget,” he said.

In Grand Bahama, he noted that around $1 million was spent.

Mr Fitzgerald commended the Grand Bahama Port Authority for contributing an additional $102,000 for repairs to the St Vincent de Paul School to accommodate the students from Lewis Yard Primary.

He thanked BORCO for donating around $100,000 in school supplies, materials, and equipment.

He also thanked Archbishop Pinder and the Catholic Board of Education for their assistance in the relocation of the school.

“I was pleased with what I saw at the site and even more so because the 200 children of the Lewis Yard community can breathe the sea breeze instead of noxious fumes,” he said.

The minister, who has travelled to Grand Bahama four times since his appointment as education minister, stated that his frequent visits are symbolic of “the close bond” that he and ministry office will have with the island.

He indicated that the ministry has been able to accomplished its four major initiatives on Grand Bahama for September 2012.

These include: the reintegration of Jack Hayward Junior and Senior Schools; the designation of Freetown Primary as a pre-school for East Grand Bahama, where enrolment has peaked at 20; the High Rock Primary School as a central location for primary students in the settlements of Freetown and McClean’s Town; and the introduction of the McClean’s Town Secondary School, beginning with seventh grade students.

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