The race is on. School term starts on September 2 – and the dash to repair buildings before the start of the term is well under way. The question is, will it be done on time?
If you ask Minister of Education Jeff Lloyd, he confidently says yes. If you ask Bahamas Union of Teachers president Belinda Wilson, she says she’s not optimistic and wants to make preparations for alternative sites if repairs are still ongoing.
In a few weeks’ time, one of them is going to be right, one of them is going to be wrong. We hope – as presumably so does she – that Mrs Wilson is the one that is wrong, for the sake of our children as they head back to school.
However, if she is not, we think it is well worth the government listening to some of her suggestions.
She quite rightly talks of the “mad rush” that seems to happen every year with school repairs, and wonders if we might not find a better way to do things.
Mrs Wilson suggests, for starters, maintenance teams assigned to districts to conduct repairs year round. That might not stop the larger structural jobs that need done in the summer when students are away, but it might give a head start to ease the scramble. It might also help to give a more accurate idea of how costly repairs might be – the $7.2m price tag announced earlier this month has already risen to nearly $9m.
Yesterday, for example, as The Tribune accompanied the official tour of schools, Mr Lloyd pointed out problems with balconies and floors that could not be tackled while students and staff were present.
But not all repairs are as substantial as that, and it would be beneficial to the country to find a way to stop this perennial dash to complete repairs on time.
It seems to be on Mr Lloyd’s mind, too, when he says that “in times past, for any number of reasons, we were only able to do patchwork”.
We really ought to be able to plan better, and do better – if the children see a slapdash, last-minute rush to get things done, what kind of example is that to them?
Meanwhile, let's see which person ends up being wrong.
Respect the ocean - or risk your life
A family is in mourning today with a young man’s life snatched away in a moment.
Jerry Device had only just bought the jet ski he fell from after losing control at Lover’s Beach in Eight Mile Rock on Monday.
Shortly after, he was brought to shore, drowned. The 20-year-old, says his sister, was unable to swim.
It seems such a terrible waste because it seems so avoidable. By all accounts, Mr Device was a good person, helping his mother with the family bills and working hard at the container port. He seems the kind of young man who should be celebrated, a role model for others. And now his family is left to mourn.
It is a reminder that we need to respect the ocean. It can be deadly if taken lightly. It is a reminder too that we should help our young people to grow up familiar with the water, and comfortable enough to swim to shore. If there are volunteer groups out there looking for a good cause to support, then summer swimming camps might be one to consider.
We send our sympathies to a family struggling to cope with a sudden and unexpected loss, and urge other families to do what they can to avoid tragedies such as this.