School for the hearing impaired to be built in Tobago

Construction of a new school for the hearing impaired, the Scarborough R.C. School, and five new ECCE Centres are on the list of educational projects for fiscal 2017 in Tobago.

This was revealed by Secretary of Finance and Enterprise Development, Assemblyman Joel Jack on Tuesday (June 21) during the Tobago House of Assembly’s (THA) budget presentation.

The building being used by the current School for the Hearing Impaired is in bad shape, the Secretary added.

“There are therefore plans to construct a new school to better accommodate the specialised needs of these students,” he said.

Scarborough RC has outgrown its current location at Bacolet, and Jack said plans are advanced to relocate it to Smithfield.

“The designs have been completed, (and) a contract has been awarded for the construction of the long-awaited school and the sod will be turned on June 27, 2016,” he stated. Construction will cost $75 million.

Jack said although the THA continues to invest in education infrastructure, and the performances of the island’s students are improving, some critical areas of Tobago’s education still need to be addressed.

According to the Secretary, the ECCE centres will be constructed in selected areas of Tobago that don’t have such facilities. Jack said the construction of ECCE centres was funded through an Inter-American Development Bank National Loan Programme in 2006, Tobago did not benefit.

“Over the last five years,” he explained, “although several schools were constructed in Trinidad with relative ease, because of petty politics and pure vindictiveness by the former central government administration, not a single school was constructed in Tobago. The IADB programme has since lapsed.”

The Assembly’s interventions in education are not limited to improvements in educational infrastructure. There are also plans to provide training and professional development for teachers, as well as specialist training for technical vocational teachers.

Jack said the Division of Education, Youth Affairs and Sport wants to provide Wi-Fi access to 16 ECCE centres and 15 primary schools to aid in the learning process.

Creating more homework and after-school programmes, installing CCTV cameras in primary and secondary schools, establishing a curriculum unit in the Education Division, and the expansion of Library Services are also among the initiatives being planned for the next fiscal year.

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