Chief Education Officer, Dr. Ramona Archer-Bradshaw, typing on one of the donated laptops while China’s Ambassador to Barbados, Yan Xiusheng, looks on. (E. Walker/MRD)

The Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training (METVT) remains appreciative of the diplomatic ties and relationship formed between Barbados and the Government of the People’s Republic of China.

This was emphasised today by Chief Education Officer, Dr. Ramona Archer-Bradshaw, as she accepted 50 laptops from China’s Ambassador to Barbados, Yan Xiusheng, at a handover ceremony at the Ministry’s headquarters, Elsie Payne Complex, Constitution Road, St. Michael.

Delivering remarks on behalf of Minister Kay McConney, Dr. Archer-Bradshaw expressed gratitude for the “timely donation”.

She stressed it would assist the Ministry in reaching students, and ensuring “they would continue to benefit from receiving an education, albeit in the new non-traditional modality”, occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Noting that the pandemic continues to have a major impact on the delivery of education across the world, she added: “In March 2019, we were forced to transition from the traditional mode of face-to-face learning to online/virtual learning in order to ensure that the education of our children was not totally compromised.”

While she pointed out it was uncharted and untested waters, she noted, however, that the initial stage saw the Ministry receiving donations from Barbadians and friends, locally and in the diaspora, and they were “forever grateful”.

Turning her attention to today’s donation, the Chief Education Officer told Ambassador Xiusheng: “I trust that as with the growth and strengthening of relationships between the two nations, almost 45 years ago, this partnership will continue to grow from strength to strength.”

She also recalled China’s assistance to Barbados came in construction, culture, agriculture, and education, which was to the benefit of the METVT and other entities. These she noted, included the Wildey Gymnasium, the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, the Cheapside Market, the Hope Agricultural Training Institute in St. Lucy, and The University of the West Indies’ Centre for Food Security and Entrepreneurship.

China donated 50 laptops to the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training during a ceremony at the Elsie Payne Complex, today. (E. Walker/MRD)

Alluding to a similar donation of technology to the Ministry, Dr. Archer-Bradshaw remarked: “In 2017, the education sector was the beneficiary of the generosity of the Government of the People’s Republic of China when the Ministry of Education graciously received a significant donation of tablets, laptops, desk tops and furniture for distribution for all schools, public and private, in Barbados. This donation, to date, remains the largest donation of electronic devices by any one entity to the Ministry of Education, and we thank you for that.”

Ambassador Xiusheng, in acknowledging the strength of diplomatic relations since May 1977, said: “Our two countries have deepened political, mutual trust and carried out mutual cooperation in such areas as trade and economy, technology, education, culture, medical care and other areas….”

He expressed pleasure at the handover of the technology and remarked: “As we all know, youth is the future of a country; youth and youth education is always a priority of the Barbadian Government. The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Barbados is delighted to donate 50 laptops to the METVT. It carries our best wishes to Barbadian youth, who are working hard to get prepared to cope with the challenges of COVID-19. No child can be left behind. China and Barbados are good friends and partners.”

Ambassador Xiusheng, in highlighting other educational opportunities since the establishment of diplomatic relations, said China had granted scholarships to Barbados, and to date, nearly 100 young Barbadians had been to that country, in pursuit of higher education.  

He added that the Confucius Institute at The UWI had provided Chinese language teaching and training to over 2,000 persons, from all walks of life in Barbados, every year, and “serves as a bridge for Barbadians, particularly young Barbadians, to learn Mandarin and to understand Chinese culture”.

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