Class Three student at the Arthur Smith Primary School, Warren Lythcott, sanitising his at hands at the station while (l-r) UNICEF’s Representative for the Eastern Caribbean, Dr. Aloys Kamuragiye; Chief Education Officer, Dr. Ramona Archer-Bradshaw; fellow Class Three student, Adah Maynard; and Principal, Wilma McClean, look on. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

UNICEF and USAID have been praised for assisting the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training in getting children safely back to school.

This came yesterday during a tour of the Arthur Smith School in St. Matthias, where their representatives undertook a tour with Chief Education Officer, Dr. Ramona Archer-Bradshaw, to examine the efficiency and effectiveness of sanitisation stations, funded and set up by these entities.

Mrs. Archer-Bradshaw, in acknowledging that the Ministry was extremely grateful to UNICEF for their support in the safe reopening of schools, said: “I know that the relationship with UNICEF and the Ministry is extremely strong and I intend to continue that relationship.  We are so grateful that our children now can go into the classroom and each classroom has the sanitising station that children can follow the protocols that are required of them.”

She was joined also by Principal of the school, Wilma McClean, who expressed gratitude for the generous donations of sanitising stations and liquid soaps, not only to her school but the Ministry, in general.

Meanwhile, USAID Representative, Aurore Dorelien, who remarked that she was happy to see students back at school and learning, said: “I know that’s something that we’ve all been waiting for to happen, after a long period of online learning.”

She also expressed the hope that the sanitisation stations would prove useful in helping to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.

UNICEF’s Representative for the Eastern Caribbean Area, Dr. Aloys Kamuragiye, commended the Chief Education Officer and stressed that she had been instrumental in ensuring there was a return to face-to-face learning.

While acknowledging that from the outset UNICEF had supported the Ministry of Education with digital education to ensure children could learn online, he, however, lamented that a lot of students had to learn under conditions that were not the best, given their family situation, and as a result, some had been left behind.

Noting that they were not learning, he commended the Education Ministry for ensuring those children, without the facilities during that period, now have an opportunity through “remedial learning to catch up on their lost learning”.  

And, he emphasised that for UNICEF and USAID, it was really the minimum they could do to ensure they could support Barbados, as it supported these students in the COVID-19 environment.

Barbados was further congratulated by Dr. Kamuragiye for ensuring that safety measures existed at all schools on their reopening. 

And, while he revealed there were still some countries where schools had not yet reopened, the UNICEF Representative recalled that there had been some push back here, but stressed: “Barbados did the right thing and we are really so happy. We are proud of Barbados.”

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