Christopher Sinckler, Minister of Finance, addresses today the graduates of the St. Lawrence Primary School at Accra Beach, Christ Church. (U.Gaskin/BGIS)??

Even though the current global economic crunch has delivered a "knockout punch" to some countries around the world, the Barbados Government is committed to preserving free education for all citizens even as the crisis appears to be deepening.

Minister of Finance, Christopher Sinckler, gave this undertaking today while addressing the graduates of the St. Lawrence Primary School during their graduation and prize giving ceremony at the Accra Beach Hotel and Spa, Rockley, Christ Church.

He revealed that although $300 million had been allocated to the educational system to fund programme activities at the various schools, this figure excluded the payment of teachers’ salaries and other costs.

"Education is an expensive exercise…and if we want to have high quality citizens that are well educated, we have to continue to maintain this level of spending and, therefore, as the Ministry of Education works to …remain committed to a free educational system, then it is important for us [government] to ensure that resources are made available to the Ministry of Education," Mr. Sinckler added.

The Finance Minister alluded to the signing of two loans to assist government in providing school surroundings that were conducive to the delivery of quality education to the students, while at the same time, eliminating the cramped conditions that some teachers and ancillary staff had endured for many years.

He mentioned the Inter-American Development Bank’s $20 million loan which would facilitate the delivery of enhanced teaching skills training particularly for persons studying at the Erdiston Teachers’ College.

Additionally, he said the loan signed with the Caribbean Development Bank, to the tune of $30 million, would go towards the improvement of the physical infrastructure at 13 primary schools, as well as the construction of a new secondary school in Christ Church.

Mr. Sinckler asserted: "The reasons why Government is making these investments is to ensure that the cramped conditions at some of the secondary schools are eased, and that we can have a better distribution of students particularly in Christ Church and St. Philip, where the population has been growing exponentially."

??He also told his audience that many of the island’s primary schools, particularly in the countryside, had become dilapidated over the past 10 years and were in urgent need of repairs.


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