Citizens and residents of the Virgin Islands, I am Myron V. Walwyn, Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs and Sports. I am once again taking the opportunity to update you the public on the happenings in education post hurricane Irma.
As you are aware, we were able to have our early childhood students and our senior students in secondary schools in formal instructions less than a month following the passage of hurricane Irma. We were able to have the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College (HLSCC) reopened on October 23rd and now we are working assiduously to have our other schools ready to deliver instructions to our primary and junior high school students on November 6th .
Beginning November 6th, students in grades K through 6 will begin their academic year at schools that have been deemed usable across the Territory. Parents were asked to register primary students in schools closest to where they live to provide an ease of access for all students. Based on the number of students already registered at primary schools for the new academic year, students will be able to have a full day of lessons with school commencing at 8:40 a.m. and ending at 3:30 p.m. Convoy of Hope has also agreed to provide lunch for our primary students. We have asked Convoy of Hope to provide food for our students for at least the first week of our Novemnber 6th opening and going forward, meals will be provided on a needs basis throughout the education sector.
In Road Town, students from the Althea Scatliffe Primary School, Enid Scatliffe Pre-Primary School, Enis Adams Primary School and Eslyn Henley Richiez Learning Centre will be housed at the Althea Scatliffe Primary School.
- The Alexandrina Maduro Primary was deemed usable and students from that area will attend there.
- On the eastern end of the island, both Francis Lettsome Primary and Willard Wheatley Primary will be in operation.
- Students in the Belle Vue area will attend the Joyce Samuels Primary School.
- Ebenezer Thomas Primary School was deemed usable and students from the Sea Cow’s Bay area will attend there.
- The Seventh Day Adventist Youth Centre in Carrot Bay will house students from the western end of the island – inclusive of the Leonora Delville, Isabella Morris and Ivan Dawson Primary Schools. We are presently looking at some issues surrounding the Ivan Dawson Primary School and if those issues can be addressed before November 6th, the students in the Cane Garden Bay area will attend the Ivan Dawson Primary School. If we are unable to have those matters addressed, the students from Ivan Dawson Primary School will attend the Seventh Day Adventist Youth Centre in Carrot Bay.
- On Virgin Gorda, through a donation of a 4,000 square foot structure from the Florida Cruise Line, the Bregado Flax Educational Centre – primary students will be able to have a separate learning area from the secondary students. The structure will be placed in the vicinity of the existing school and the secondary students will be housed in the now primary section.
- The residents of Jost Van Dyke were able to salvage an area of the primary school and commenced its school year for primary students, pre-school students and daycare goers on October 16th as planned. Convoy of Hope and Team Rubicon have been instrumental in making the school more conducive to learning. They are currently building a new kitchen on the school grounds, have provided school supplies for the teachers and students and have been providing lunch and snacks. We remain grateful to these organisations for their continued assistance.
Junior school students in grades 7 to 9 of the Elmore Stoutt High School will join the senior students at the old CTL Building on a shift system beginning November 6th between the hours of 8:00a.m. and 12:00 noon. The senior students, grades 10 to 12 will attend from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. Because of the limited ferry service that exists on Jost Van Dyke, we are working through some issues right now to see how we can better accommodate ESHS students who reside on JVD, particularly those students who will be on the afternoon shift.
Lunch will continue to be provided for these students through Convoy of Hope’s assistance.
We have relayed our concerns to the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) regarding projects and examinations for our students and as such, they have provided some adjustments to their time frame to ensure that our students have the best opportunity to do well on their exams.
An extension for School Based Assessments (SBAs) has been given up to July 31 and students who have moved to other countries are being asked to register using their BVI number so that the results can be sent back to the BVI when results are released. We thank the CXC for working along with us to ensure that our students are not disadvantaged in any way.
The digital textbooks are estimated to be here at the end of this month and training on the use of the devices will begin in the first week in November. As was mentioned before, digital textbooks in the first instance, will be available for grades 7 and 8. Hard-copied textbooks for students in grade 9 are now available for purchase at Island Services and there are no issues surrounding textbooks for grades 10-12 as the same textbooks are used for the senior programme.
Classes at the HLSCC resumed on October 23rd as was stated before. I would like to thank very much the Board of Governors, The President, faculty and staff of that institution for working as assiduously as they did to meet the established deadline. Community colleges play a pivotal role in the aftermath of disasters. In the Virgin Islands, a number of business, particularly tourism based businesses have been destroyed and there lies an opportunity for persons who worked in these areas to be trained in other areas until their places of employment have been restore. As such, I asked the president to provide courses in construction, plumbing, electrical works, landscaping, marine industry management and maintenance, just to name a few. I expect these courses to commence in November at a very reasonable cost for persons who are interested. Further details on the particulars will be offered in another update.
Recognising the importance of having our high school students properly occupied once their school day shift has ended, I asked the Department of Youth Affairs and Sports to put together a creative learning programme that will keep students occupied until 3pm. In other words, students at ESHS who are on the 8-12 shift will be expected to go to the after school programmes until 3pm each day immediately following their lunch break period. The programme will provide learning opportunities in the areas of entrepreneurship, art, academics, sports, speech, drama and community service to name a few.
The Director of Youth Affairs and Sports, Mrs Brenda Lettsome-Tye and her team will be visiting grades 7-9 students of ESHS to register them for the programme during the week of November 6th. Further details on the Creative Learning Programme will be forthcoming in a future announcement. I would like to, however, say to parents now, that we expect your full cooperation and assistance in ensuring that your child attends the after school programmes. The after school programme will be held at a separate location and we want all students to be accounted for. We are asking parents to ensure that at the end of your child’s shift, that they are engaged in the after school programmes.
The Ministry is aware that many of our youth are still unemployed and even more so now with the devastation after the passage of hurricane Irma. In an effort to assist with job and entrepreneurial opportunities for our young people during this time, I have asked the coordinator of the Youth Employment Services Programme to find opportunities in the local business community that our young people can avail themselves of. Ms Rochelle Lawrence, our programme coordinator, will utilise the Youth Employment Services Facebook Page as a portal to disseminate information on available job opportunities.
The Youth Employment Services programme is also tasked with creating a registry of available jobs, and a registry for young people who would like to provide services to the community, be it in landscaping, painting, light repairs, messenger or delivery services and other vocations so that persons in the community requiring assistance in these areas can have direct contact with the young persons who can provide those services. We will have a more detailed launch of this new service for our young people that will be made next week.
Young persons who are interested in getting more information on this new service can contact are encouraged to do so by contacting Ms Lawrence at 499-9944, at Rochelle@youthvi.com or via message on the Youth Employment Services Facebook Page.
As we continue on our journey towards normalcy, we will ensure that our young people will continue to have access to opportunities that will aide in their development as we continue to create a culture of excellence within the Virgin Islands. May God bless us all and May God bless these Virgin Islands.