Project Educator (Primary Schools) of the Education Project Implementation Unit, Annette Murrell, taking MInister of Education
and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones, on a tour of the Blackman Gollop Primary School today. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Come September, Barbados will have two new schools.

They are the Blackman Gollop Primary School, located at Staple Grove, Christ Church and the Maria Holder Nursery School at Sharon St. Thomas.

This was revealed today as Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones, toured the project sites of three educational facilities, along with officials from the Ministry’s Education Project Implementation Unit.

Minister Jones noted that the $1.5 million project at Sharon St. Thomas, funded by the Maria Holder Memorial Trust would, on completion in May, house 120 nursery-aged students. Explaining that lands were being procured from the Moravian Church, he said it represented part of the Ministry’s initiative for early childhood education.

"As you know early childhood education is costly because the student to teacher ratio is a lot smaller than you have in primary and secondary school… It is part of our commitment to ensure that even our small ones benefit from formal instruction, appropriate guidance and that the principle of equity is generated across the entire Barbadian landscape," he added.

In respect of the new primary school at Staple Grove, Christ Church, the Education Minister pointed out that it would be named in honour of two outstanding teachers – Wilfred Blackman, a teacher who worked at the St. David’s Primary school for some 42 years and Sir Clyde Gollop, a teacher, community activist and family planner.

Mr. Jones announced that the amalgamation of South District and St. David’s Primary schools, was expected to cost some $8 million, but that figure would probably increase as a result of extra work done on its sloping topography.

It was also explained that although the current roll for the two schools was "slightly over 400", the new facility would accommodate some 630 children "because the Ministry wants to ensure expansion possibilities are there". The Education Minister noted that it was [in] an area where several communities were located and proposed housing development was expected, particularly at "the back of Edey Village and St. David’s". "And, also you will find a high mobility of persons both moving in and out; persons coming from either [the] St. George, Christ Church or St. Philip areas will be able to find access," he added.

Minister Jones further explained that the Blackman-Gollop Primary School and its playing field were being constructed "as part of Government’s vision of serving communities". The Education Minister underlined: "So, [it is] not only for the use of the school but communities such as Edey Village, Frere Pilgrim South, Cox Road, St. David’s and South District will have access to the playing field and hopefully we will be able to work with the Ministry of Sports to construct a pavilion…"

And, he stated that the old facilities at St. David would be converted to a nursery school, to be named after former janitor, Thelma Berry, who worked there for several years.

Explaining the rationale behind the naming, he said it was a way to recognise those persons who rose from humble beginnings and made outstanding contributions to society.

The South District Primary School, once it becomes defunct, will be considered among other options, for the construction of a new secondary school.

The touring party also visited Harrison College and examined the infrastructural upgrades that would accommodate information technology. This is a new block that will be dedicated as the school’s central computer laboratory. The $3.7 million project, which is being done under Government’s Education Sector Enhancement Programme (EDUTECH) was deemed to be "a bit behind schedule" but slated for completion soon and under budget.

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