Recognition is due to the grace of God and the support of the people of Castries South, the Cabinet of Ministers and the Staff of the Ministry of Education, Human Resource Development and Labour.
This Budget is testimony of the leadership of the Prime Minister and Minister for Finance. In the face of growing criticism by some in certain quarters, and deteriorating financial and economic environment, the Minister for Finance has sought to present estimates that reflect a curtailment in spending and the more efficient use of scarce resources of the state.
While spending has been kept at a minimum, the Government has been very cautious not to unduly affect the educational allocations of the people of the country.
Last financial year 2012/2013, a total of $168, 135, 899 formed the recurrent expenditure of the Ministry of Education, Human Resource Development and Labour; the sum for 2013/2014 is $168, 806, 000.00 (some $670,200.00 more than what was expended on education last year.)
An allocation of $21,334,336.00 has been made for Capital Expenditure in Education, Human Resource Development and Labour.
Together, this year’s estimates sum to a grand total of $190, 140, 336, which is 14.3% of the National Budget for 2013/2014.
Therefore, the share of the national estimates of expenditure and capital are essentially the same.
An allocation of $3,804,500.00 is made to take care of a number of Subsidy Programmes-School Transportation Subsidy, Education Access Fund. Etc.
The Government has kept its promise not to reduce the subsidy given for transportation for students at the secondary school level. The neediest and most deserving students receive such assistance.
Moreover, under Education Access Fund last financial year, the Government gave assistance to the sum of $1,300,000.00 to first time entrants to secondary schools. The criteria were simple: the student wrote the exam; the student has accepted a place in a secondary school; the parent applied for the grant-no politics! Education does not know partisan politics.
The members for Castries North and Micoud South must be commended for the interest shown and the presence at the hand over ceremonies.
SCHOOL MAINTENANCE AND REFURBISHING
$1,500,000.00 is allocated for repairs/rehabilitation of school plant. Moreover, $825,575.00 and $669,209.00 respectively is available for repairs in schools.
An allocation of $2,374,511.00 is marked for the expansion and rehabilitation of the Micoud Primary School. A sod turning ceremony began the project on Thursday, April 4, 2013. This extension to the Micoud Primary School will provide accommodation for the students of Micoud Infant School. The two schools will be back after some 50 years in separate existence.
ICT IN EDUCATION
The Government continues its drive in the modernization of the education system and to integrate ICT into the school system.
$5,853,883.00 is allocated for the continuation of the Education Enhancement through ICT Programme. While most of the primary schools on the island have received computers through various projects, this particular project is targeted at 25 primary schools, libraries and other educational institutions.
Moreover, this Education Enhancement through ICT Programme includes making use of Obie ICT space that will be used throughout the breadth and width of the country.
$8,160,859.00 has been allocated for the BEEP project. This is a project with an initial $37.79 million. The BEEP project has three components: a Building Works component that will affect 12 schools; a quality component that will provide training and professional development to all teachers, principals and education officers; and a procurement of goods component that will equip schools with furniture, fittings and equipment.
In this financial year, four of the twelve schools are down for rehabilitation under this project will be completed: Derniere Rivière at a total cost of approximately $900,000.00, Dennery Primary approximately $900,000.00, Desruisseaux Combined approximately $1,000,000.00 and Saltibus Combined approximately $1,051,000.00. These first four schools are to be completed for the new academic year starting September 2013.
The process of designs, bidding and awarding of contracts on the other eight schools: Fond Assou Combined, La Guerre Combined, Gordon and Walcott Memorial, Vide Bouteille Combined, Vieux- Fort Infant, Clendon Mason Memorial, Corinth Secondary and St Joseph’s Convent are at an advanced stage. Work will commence in earnest by the third quarter of this year.
Single Mothers In Life Education (SMILE)- $1,000,000.00
Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP) $1,094,750.00
Black Bay Training Centre-External Works $300,000.00
OECS Skills for Inclusive Growth Project $4,066,149.00
The Constituency Development Programme is a vital tool in job creation and upgrade of infrastructure. The allocation of $24,431,304.00 is welcomed.
Distress Support Fund: Over six household in Castries South have been consumed by fire in the last year. This fund has provided relief and so, an endorsement of the allocation of $300,000.00 is welcomed.
The residence of Barre Saint Joseph can look forward to the construction of a Human Resource Development Centre. An allocation of $796,500.00 has been made.
There is a need to rehabilitate the community Centre in Ciceron. The allocation of $500,000.00 to rehabilitate Community Centres is encouraging.
The after school Programmes in Faux a Chaux and Ciceron are successful. The Expansion will augur well for the residents. Therefore the allocation of $1,000,000.00 is welcomed.
HOPE AND STEP are welcomed at such a critical juncture. There needs to be assistance to the most vulnerable in society.
The $9,000,000.00 allocation is welcomed.
A review of the performance of NICE is necessary:
1. The Home Help for the Elderly Programme has two benefits. Care for the elderly is provided while jobs are provided to many persons who have not worked for many years.
2. Approximately 82 positions have been created as Principal Assistance to enhance the operation of schools.
3. Approximately 82 positions have been created as IT Assistants.
4. The caretakers Programme has been augmented and ancillary staff can now be provided to schools.
The Ministry of Youth and Sports have provided much needed support to the Castries South Constituency. The Bananes playing field has been fenced and resurfaced. There is a need to refurbish the Ciceron and Marigot playing fields and so further collaboration is welcomed.
The government of Saint Lucia remains committed to making education accessible to all. It is the desire of this government to ensure that the quality of education is improved and that the cuts do not adversely affect the work Programme for 2013/2014.