Minister Richards: BHS matter will take time to be fixed

With the controversial Basseterre High School situation still pressing on the national agenda, newly appointed Minister of Education Shawn Richards has indicated that his Ministry is pursuing a solution to the problem.

Deputy Prime Minister Richards and Team Unity members had campaigned and made pre-elections edicts that a new school would be built. But he told the media that the process would take time, indicating that the first phase of the building a new high school would involve finding a “suitable location” to house the campus.

“We have pledged to build a brand new Basseterre High School…We have had different suggestions from the different stakeholders, and we are looking at those suggestion,” said Richards, as he indicated that other relevant departments within government would also be called upon to look at possible sites for the construction of the learning institution.

“From there on, there is a process that one would have to go through. After identifying the site, you would have to ensure that the site is in the possession of the Government. If it is not, we would then have to speak to the land owners and then come to some sort of agreement.

“You have the drafting phase or the designing of the new high school that, again, would have to be done with the different stakeholders. Because we would not want to build a school just for today, but rather a school for future generations,” the education minister explained.

Other significant challenges in getting to a new school in the short term would include project financing and the tendering process, Richards outlined.

“it’s not a process that we expect to happen overnight. But, by bringing the right resources and by bringing the right set of persons together, we are hoping to achieve it as soon as possible,” Richards said.

The Basseterre High School has been plagued with a number of health related issues with a number of teachers and students falling ill while at the institution.

This resulted in teachers and students protesting the use of the facility on several occasions. However, then minister of education, Nigel Carty, had suggested that there was no major problem at the school.

Regional health institutions called in to review the matter reported no definitive cause of the problems, but made several recommendations aimed at improving the school’s environment.

Subsequently, Natalie Johnson’s teaching service was terminated from the institution. She was a vocal advocate for the closure of the institution.

Johnson, allegedly, sustained health problems from the institution.

The gates of the Basseterre High School have been chained locked, and students and classes are accommodated on a shift system at the Washington Archibald High School.


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