EDUCATION Minister Jeff Lloyd.
By Leandra Rolle
EDUCATION Minister Jeff Lloyd said yesterday the government is still determining whether it wants to rebuild Patrick J Bethel High School in Abaco as costs to repair the storm-ravaged school are nearly $5m.
“So, the question to consider is whether we should rebuild that school, knock it down and put up a new school or would it be in our best interests in all things considered to repair it. Major construction, nevertheless, it would be,” he told reporters ahead Cabinet.
“…(But), we are still determining whether we would be rebuilding Patrick Bethel, that’s almost a $5m repair job.”
As it relates to those schools in East Grand Bahama impacted by Dorian, Mr Lloyd said: “You know we are now in the process of completing Holmes Rock. The eastern portion of Grand Bahama is not scheduled for rebuild, serious repairs, but not rebuild.”
In December, the education minister estimated the cost to repair the schools in Abaco and Grand Bahama following Hurricane Dorian to be around $20m to $25m.
Speaking about the funding of the repairs, Mr Lloyd noted the money will come from the government’s consolidated fund and donors.
“It appears as if there will be some funding from the consolidated fund, but a good much of this will be coming from donors, non-governmental organisations, foreign, as well as locals, who have offered to assist in repair,” he said.
“We are just in the final stages of a supplemental budget preparation as you know the deputy prime minister… (will be) borrowing in…2020 to fund a huge deficit part of which is as a result of Dorian. We have prepared a budget of about $20m, $25m for the repairs in Abaco and Grand Bahama.”
In the meantime, education officials will be working vigorously to prepare students for the upcoming BJC and BGCSE examinations.
Speaking about the concerns regarding the upcoming examinations last week, Mr Lloyd told reporters that his ministry has no plans to make adjustments to the set dates for national examinations.
“It’s too problematic to make adjustments in the exam schedules – especially the BGCSE,” he said on the sidelines of the New Year’s Day Junkanoo Parade. “You have to remember there might be the ability to make some adjustments with regard to the BJC, but we can’t certainly do it with the BGCSE because in order for us to do that we would have to then push back scholarship decisions (and) admissions to universities both here in New Providence as well as in the United States – too many complications.”
As a result of this, Mr Lloyd said the ministry has implemented other measures to ensure students displaced by the deadly storm are prepared to sit the national examinations.
“What we are doing and have done is to assist those students in getting ready. They have additional classes on Saturdays, Sundays and on holidays, classes (in the) afternoon (and) more tutorials have been provided so that they could be ready.”