PRESS RELEASE – The Government of Saint Lucia has given assurances that efforts to address the deplorable conditions at the Choiseul Secondary School are being fast tracked.
Minister for Economic Development, Housing, Urban Renewal, Transport and Civil Aviation on Tuesday, November 8, made a statement in Parliament on the “Reconstruction of the Choiseul Secondary School”.
Minister Joseph reiterated that funding has been approved by the World Bank for the Reconstruction of the Choiseul Secondary School, under the Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project.
The Economic Development Minister said: “Specifically funding has been approved for the works contract and engagement of a consultant to provide assistance to the Government of Saint Lucia with preconstruction, (technical evaluation bids), construction (supervision of works) and post construction services during the defects liability period.”
The reconstruction of the secondary school Minister Joseph indicated will begin with Block C which is in urgent need of attention. “All works would be scheduled such that the ongoing school year in particular exams and CXC would not be disrupted.”
The Minister outlined the initial schedule that had been laid out to respond expeditiously to the school’s issues.
“Should all clarifications to bidders be issued within the agreed time frame of February 15, 2016 the contractor would be able to mobilize by June 2016. The Ministry of Education would provide the list of equipment and furniture for specialized classrooms comprising IT, Lab Services and TVET. Construction would be undertaken using a phased approach commencing with Block C. Duration of works – 14 months and therefore operations at the school would be suspended for two years.”
However, Mr. Joseph pointed to delays which slowed down the process significantly: “The bidding document was issued on January 11, 2016. The Addendum to the Bidding document was issued on April 11, 2016 and not on February 16, 2016 (two months delay) as planned due to delay in submission of the information by the Ministry of Education.”
Minister Joseph further disclosed that: “Determination of administrative compliance (responsiveness of Bids) was delayed as Evaluators who were either on vacation leave or sick leave.”
He said notwithstanding plans are moving ahead, for the erection of rendering and project sign boards by November 11, 2016 and award of both contracts by mid November 2016, consultancy by November 8, 2016 (to be done by Central Tenders Board by round robin) and works contract by November 16, 2016.”
Education Authorities have indicated that while the project is ongoing the Piaye Secondary School will provide Science Lab support to the Choiseul Secondary School, while the NSDC Facilities adjacent to the school have been identified for the relocation of affected students.
Minister Guy Joseph said the reconstruction project will begin in earnest as soon as students are relocated in keeping with discussions with education authorities.
Meantime, students of the Choiseul Secondary School have been reassured by the Parliamentary Representative for Choiseul Honourable Bradly Felix that their concerns will be addressed expeditiously.
Minister Felix underscored that Education as a high priority area on government’s agenda.
The Minister endorsed a pending decision of the Government to remove the Plant and Equipment Unit from the Ministry of Infrastructure where it had been shifted by the previous administration, and to return it to the Ministry of Education.
This Unit was responsible for the maintenance and rehabilitation of schools: “There is a direct co-relation between the Ministry of Education and the schools obviously and so the Ministry of Education will be able to respond a lot quicker to their needs and desires.”
Minister Felix asserted that it is the collective view of Cabinet that learning should take place in a conducive environment.