foreign nations pledge millions to improve educational facilities


The United Arab Emirates has committed to providing Antigua with a grant of US$1.5 million dollars to fund the upgrade of the Villa Primary School.

The promise was made on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly held in New York in late September where it was agreed that the UAE would provide the grant to modernise the educational institution.

The Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister, Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst said the UAE is expected to transfer the money to Antigua and Barbuda before 2017.

The UAE minister responsible for foreign development assistance visited the Villa Primary School this year and saw the need to develop the institution.

The Kingdom of Morocco, according to a Cabinet statement, has also agreed to fund one wing of a new secondary school to be built at Tomlinson, in the parish of St. George.

School overcrowding is an issue that persists in Antigua and Barbuda and several schools are in need of renovation. Most schools across the nation are used as hurricane shelters. But in recent years, the institutions have deteriorated and are among the first affected by problems such as flooding and leaky roofs. A recent government funded expansion project targeted five of the schools most affected by overcrowding and which had shoddy facilities.

Meanwhile, in November, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology secured US$83,000 from Japan to build an aquaponics and organic agricultural farm at the St. Mary’s Secondary School.

This development follows a meeting that involved Miho Harada, a consultant working with the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project, which is offered by the Embassy of Japan in Trinidad; Craig Cole, education officer of Agricultural Science (ag.); Ezra Knowles, special project consultant for the Ministry of Education Science and Technology; Casey Phillip, the principal of the St. Mary’s Secondary School; Adolph Audain, a specialist in aquaponics and organic farming; and the school’s agricultural science teachers.

The project once implemented will not only serve the St. Mary’s School, but all primary and secondary institutions, along with the farming community. The project is designed to increase the nation’s understanding about climate smart agriculture practices. Once complete, St. Mary’s Secondary School will be the first school in the Caribbean to house a commercial level research aquaponics facility. •