St. George Secondary School is one of the first recipients of grant funds of BDS $60,000, under the School Improvement Grant (SIG), of the Skills For The Future (SFTF) Program of the Government of Barbados and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Having received the funding, the school at Constant, St. George, has embarked on its agricultural programme to get students qualified with the requisite skills and knowledge to attain their Caribbean Vocational Qualifications (CVQs).

This was explained on Wednesday as IDB representatives and education officials toured related facilities on the school compound and were brought up to date on the use of the grant.

Head of the Science Department, Stephen Proverbs, noted that the school had started by constructing a 500 square foot poultry pen for broiler production, and work was expected to begin on two other aspects: a tilapia pond and facilities to rear rabbits.

He said construction students from the Industrial Arts Department were facilitating the process, and as a result, it would take ???some time??? for completion. This, he added would prove beneficial to students who would utilise skills learnt.

Mr. Proverbs, who is leading the students on the project, further explained that the rabbitry should be completed in the next school term, while the tilapia pond would be the focus of the first term of the 2015-2016 academic year. Forty-five students will be working directly with the projects that fall under the SIG programme.

Education Lead Specialist with the IDB, Dr. Sabine Rieble-Aubourg, stated that it was her organisation???s first visit to one of the schools which received a grant from the SIG and the team was excited to see what was behind the proposals.

???We are pleased with what we are seeing, and will come back to see how the project has been unfolding. We want to take advantage of this mission to see what worked well and what can be improved,??? she said.

Acting Programme Director of the Programme Coordinating Unit of the Ministry of Education, Junior Burgess, explained that SIG was Component II of the SFTF Program.

It aimed to improve the quality and relevance of secondary education by offering 12 secondary schools the opportunity to obtain grants for use in technical or vocational areas, or in relation to core academic areas, like Mathematics, English, Reading and Computation.

Principal Sonja Goodridge said her institution???s plans for agriculture extended beyond SIG, and were aimed at making the institution the ???agricultural mecca of Barbados???. Among the components the rural school will be seeking to implement are a sustainable integrated agricultural project geared at making the students ???agricultural entrepreneurs???.

When fully in place, activities will include greenhouse farming, field crop production, orchard production, livestock farming, slaughtering and dressing of animals and small ruminant production. The produce will be marketed and sold under the St. George Secondary School brand.

St. George Secondary is in Cycle One along with two other schools ??? Frederick Smith Secondary School and St. Leonard???s Boys??? Secondary School ??? which are now implementing their projects.

Three other secondary schools in the second cycle ??? Deighton Griffith, Grantley Adams Memorial and Graydon Sealy ??? received grants last month, with the remaining six to obtain funding later in the year.

Those awaiting grants are: The Alma Parris School, Darryl Jordan Secondary School, The Lester Vaughan Secondary School, Ellerslie Secondary School, Parkinson Memorial Secondary School and Princess Margaret Secondary School.

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