An aerial view of the damage on Ragged Island. Photo: Terrel W Carey
By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
AS the government continues its post Irma relief and rebuild efforts, education officials are considering its options to relocate Ragged Island students and teachers displaced by the storm.
In an interview with reporters outside of the Office of the Prime Minister on Tuesday, Education Minister Jeffrey Lloyd revealed that consideration is being given to the idea of enrolling the estimated 11 Ragged Island students in schools either in New Providence or Exuma, depending on which is more feasible to the immediate family of the students.
According to the South Beach MP, similar consideration was given to the teachers from Ragged Island, with the final decision being made to post them to Exuma.
“Ragged Island, Duncan Town - devastation,” Mr Lloyd told reporters Tuesday, one day after he and several of his Cabinet colleagues, along with Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, toured southern islands pounded by Hurricane Irma last week.
“There is nothing else that you can use as a word to describe, but devastation. And that is a complete rebuild for the country of that particular settlement. The school, the all-age school, in Duncan Town is gone, completely gone.
“We have work for us in order to restore those schools in that community back to their original condition or even better so that they could withstand hurricanes in the future.
“But, those 10 or 11 students out of Ragged Island will be placed either in Exuma, if they can be accommodated there because parents would be there, or in New Providence where their parents would be easily accommodated.
“The teachers of Ragged Island would be accommodated on the Exuma Islands.”
During that tour on Monday, Dr Minnis urged the 18 remaining residents of Ragged Island to evacuate the island, which has been left uninhabitable at the moment.
When asked about any planned repair work to the school, Mr Lloyd said: “It is not a matter of repair, those are replacements and so that is going to be a decision by the government as to how our resources permit us to tackle those and have those concluded.”
Additionally, Mr Lloyd on Tuesday revealed that education officials are currently considering several options to recover the academic hours lost in districts across the country due to Irma.
He told reporters the professionalism of teachers led many of them to consider evening classes, and in some cases, weekend classes to make up the lost hours of instruction.
Mr Lloyd said: “Teachers are professionals and they know what they need to do to make ground up as it were, and they will do that, that is not a problem.
“The dedication of our teachers, I’ve seen this over the years and I’ve seen it now as the minister of education, is beyond description.
“These are real professionals who have dedicated their lives to our children, and if that means after school class or Saturday classes or even Sunday classes, I am very happy and proud to say the teachers are prepared to do it and have been doing it.
“It is just remarkable, the kind of commitment we see demonstrated by our education professionals across the board in the Family Islands and here in New Providence and Grand Bahama.”
When asked directly if the Minnis administration was considering forgoing the upcoming fall mid-term period, an option used by the former Christie administration after the passage of hurricanes, Mr Lloyd said it was a consideration that had to be confronted.
“That might be necessary, or at least a shortened term of it. The same thing goes for the Easter break because we have to complete the syllabus,” Mr Lloyd insisted.