Education Minister Dr Natalio Wheatley announced his intention to establish several new Junior High Schools across the territory within the coming years.
“We need more schools,” Dr Wheatley said. “Right now we have plans, we’re moving forward steadily with plans for junior high schools.”
Dr Wheatley said the government intends to first implement a junior high school in West End, Tortola at the site of the Isabella Morris Primary School that was damaged during the September 2017 hurricanes, Irma and Maria.
He revealed that there was money in this year’s budget to implement the first school.
“Instead of bringing it back as a primary school – because, of course, the schools down on the west usually have a smaller population and Leonora Delville [Primary School] can sustain those who were going to Isabella Morris – we bring it back as a junior high school,” Dr Wheatley said.
He said while the administration also intends to build a school in East End, the population on the eastern end of Tortola is too large to open a school there without first building a “significant piece of educational infrastructure in the east”.
He said the challenge has been to find an appropriate spot; adding that the government is working hard towards this.
The Education Minister said an additional school is being planned for the central area of Tortola as well. A building design for this project is currently underway, he stated.
“We are going to make it happen,” Dr Wheatley stated emphatically while noting that the initiative was talked about in the past but never come to fruition.
Following the hurricanes in 2017, the previous National Democratic Party government had announced that considerations were being made to have junior high schools on the western, eastern, and central sections of Tortola.
Money has to come from somewhere
Commenting on the source of the funding, which he suggested will be drawn largely from a remittance tax implemented by the government last year, Dr Wheatley said: “The money has to come from somewhere, and these same educational institutions benefit persons not just from the BVI, but from other places as well.”
The minister further said he felt the schools are too big — especially the Elmore Stoutt High School — and the population needed to be reduced so they are easier to manage.
He commented that building schools is a worthy cause for some of the funding from the government’s seven percent tax on remittance services.
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