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No Problems Expected For Stephen Dillet School

The last academic school year got off to a bumpy start for teachers and students at the Stephen Dillet Primary School following complaints about mold infested air vents, non-functioning air conditions and a poor working environment, Director of Education Lionel Sands assured yesterday that teachers and students will not experience these when the new school year begins Monday.

Mr. Sands led took members of the press on a tour of the ongoing repairs for a number of government schools throughout the island.

“The Ministry of Education has done quite a bit to ensure that the air conditioning system function at its optimum and also to ensure that the quality of the air is such that it doesn’t have a deleterious impact on either students or teachers,” he said.

“You can feel that it is indeed so we do not expect this time around to have the challenges that we’ve had last year, the Ministry of Environmental Health who asked us to do certain things we completed all of the things that they’ve asked us to do this time around so were on the right track.”

The Ministry of Education and The Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) went head to head on a number of issues and one of them centred around the conditions at the primary school.

The Ministry of Education’s First Assistant Secretary responsible for all school repairs and maintenance in the country, Coleman Andrews said that thousands of dollars went into renovating the school’s air conditioning system.

“We would have installed four new 15 ton air conditioning systems so all of that at a total cost $137,000 just to address the air conditioning needs, the auditorium tiling was recently done as a part of the summer repair project, roof repairs as a result of what we went through last year, roof repairs to the tune of some $81,000 was done so all the problems we encountered last year at Stephen Dillet and Uriah McPhee have been eliminated,” he said.

Uriah McPhee Primary School also gained media attention last year following complaints on numerous issues; Mr. Andrews added that more than $200,000 was pumped into school repairs for Uriah McPhee.

Two new 15 ton air conditioning units are being installed among other repairs and a monthly maintenance program has been put in place to facilitate the needs of air conditioning needs of both schools.

According to Mr. Andrews, the government is spending some $7.7 million dollars on school repairs throughout the country.

The Bahama Journal also joined officials on a tour of the country’s newest special needs centre on Wednesday.

Formerly known as Our Lady’s Primary School and after months in the making it has been transformed to a million dollar centre to facilitate the needs of students with learning disabilities.

Mr. Sands said it is certainly a step in the right direction towards combating and addressing the issue of social promotion of students in schools from one grade to the next despite the academic challenges.

“It’s addressing that issue, I won’t say that it would be the panacea for the problems that we have in our school system but its step towards providing that kind of assistance so that we can reduce those incidents where student are missed and fall through the cracks because before we didn’t have a mechanism in place to prevent those students from falling through the cracks,” he said.

The concept of the centre has been years in the making, it will provide interventions for students in primary school and lower primary as the Ministry of Education seeks to address learning issues at a very young age.

The centre will focus on four main pillars, diagnostic and consultative services, intervention services, and professional developments and training.

The centre has eight standard classrooms, computer lab, library, student wash rooms and shower facilities, staff rooms and administrative areas.

Nearly $1.6 million dollars was pumped into transforming the school; special features such as ramps and an elevator have been put in place for those who are handicapped.

A name for the centre has not been decided as yet, as the Ministry of Education is still awaiting the approval for the list of names submitted to Cabinet.

Once those students with special needs are identified some 100 students are expected to join the centre.

Overall, Mr. Sands assures that all schools throughout the country will be ready for the new school year.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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