By Horace Mills, BVI News Online Staff
Following a suggestion for Government to use possible force in acquiring land for the expansion of Bregado Flax Educational Centre on Virgin Gorda, Minister of Education Myron Walwyn last evening said the necessary land already has been identified.
“I must say things are advanced in terms of getting that (land acquisition) done. We have identified land already. But we will leave that for a later time,” the minister said without elaborating.
Before Walwyn made that declaration during the government’s NDP Radio programme last evening (May 1), Eileen Parsons noted that she had a tough time securing land for expansion of Bregado Flax when she served as education minister many years ago.
She therefore proposed that, going forward, the government may have to resort to eminent domain, which is a process by which Government takes away private land for public use and also compensate the property owner.
“When I was the minister of education, my problem with dividing the Bregado Flax Primary and Secondary, I couldn’t find land. I really wish you (Walwyn) luck. The piece of land I identified, the people said it was the only piece left in their family and there was no way they were going to let go of it… I am certain [political representative for Virgin Gorda] Honourable O’Neal will help you over there even if you have to take some by eminent domain,” Parsons told the education minister.
Walwyn, in the meantime, stated that he is still trying to expedite plans to separate the primary division from the secondary division at Bregado Flax.
He noted that his latest talks in Barbados last week with the project financier – Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) – were encouraging.
“I took the chance to sit down with members of the Caribbean Development Bank who we are working on for the $30 million loan facility to improve Elmore Stoutt High School and improve Bregado Flax Educational Centre. The discussions went extremely well. We got some very good feedback in terms of what they would like to see, [and] how we can get cheap money by making sure that we make the buildings very environmentally friendly. I had extensive conversation with CDB on trying to get that done,” Walwyn said.
“I had conversation again with the architect this morning (Monday) because we want to be able to start that [project] as quickly as possible so that we can improve the secondary schools both on Tortola and in Virgin Gorda.”
Walwyn also thanked Premier Dr D Orlando Smith for allocating $13 million in this year’s budget to enhance public schools. But he noted that there is no excuse for not ensuring the Territory’s three public secondary educational institutions are in top-notch condition.
“In many of the Caribbean countries – for instance I grow up part of my life in one of the [other] Caribbean countries, in every constituency, there is a secondary school. We have three secondary schools in the whole BVI; there is no reason why we cannot improve them and create an environment that is conducive to learning for our students,” the minister further said.
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