Prime Minister Freundel Stuart giving a pep talk to pupils of St. Paul’s Primary recently.
(A. Miller/BGIS)

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart today described education as "the flagship of Barbados."?? He was at the time underscoring to China’s Premier Wen Jiabao the importance the country attaches to educating its people, and the fundamental part it plays in their overall development and that of the country.

Mr. Stuart, who is on an official visit to the People’s Republic of China, was having discussions with the Premier on several areas on which China and Barbados expect to cooperate.

During the talks he indicated that chief among those areas in which Barbados was seeking Chinese assistance over the short to medium term were: the development of the agriculture sector; expansion of the facilities at the Barbados Community College (BCC) and the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic (SJPP, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, NULL, NULL, 0); an appropriate amenity to replace the Empire Theatre; and the search for alternative energy sources.

The Prime Minister told his Chinese counterpart that his government was keen to have a vibrant agriculture sector. "We recognise the value in ensuring that, as a small nation, we must strive to achieve a level of food security, and reduce our high food import bill. We need to engage your expertise to reach that goal," he said.

In relation to the planned expansion of the BCC and the SJPP, Mr. Stuart rolled out a case for higher student intake at both institutions. He said that they were unable to absorb all the applications made each year, and as such that presented a problem for youngsters who wanted to make the transition from secondary school to a higher institution and secure a worthwhile skill.

Finding an appropriate replacement for the old Empire Theatre continues to be cost prohibitive, and Prime Minister Stuart said he believed China, with its vast cultural experience, could assist in replacing the rundown structure. "What we have in mind is an artistic project; one to not only accommodate cultural pursuits, but also to be the home of the youth orchestra and the proposed national orchestra.

Premier Wen promised that China would study any proposal submitted and would aim to provide some economic and technical assistance in the areas identified, particularly that of a facility to house a national orchestra. "I will instruct our cultural officials to keep in touch with the authorities in Barbados," he assured.

Prime Minister Stuart is on his first official visit to China, and in turn, he has made a reciprocal gesture to Premier Wen to visit Barbados.

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