Within the last few weeks, we have seen reports in the press highlighting the calls of various Parent Teacher Associations from schools across the island, for school plants and their environs to be better maintained.
Indeed, during the recent Estimates debates in the House of Assembly, we have heard a few ministers calling attention to a number of issues at school plants that need to be urgently addressed and we have even seen key educational officials stepping out to assess and bring some remedial interventions. In Barbados however, each and every year, there is always a challenge at some school or the other as the academic year gets underway or even continues, that speaks to a lack of proper maintenance at these educational institutions and often times we see educational officials only reacting to what has surfaced, rather than taking a proactive approach to the maintenance process.
We all can agree that a beautiful environment lends to an enhanced teaching and learning process. As such, there are many school plants on this island, that really need to be maintained, as “beautiful” is not a word that can be used to describe them. Many of the island’s schools have been around for decades and it is understood that they often require high levels of maintenance. The Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training can only do so much with its budget and as such, it is hard to maintain all of them at the same time.
That said, it must be noted that alumni associations and parent teacher associations (PTAs) can do more to enhance the island’s educational institutions. Barbadians should not have to wait on the Government of Barbados to make a decision as to when or if it will step in and have some work done on a school. Many of the school principals can take the bull by the horns and initiate some kind of fund-raising drive to assist their schools as well and bring some much needed lustre to some of these dull and dreary looking school plants.
This is where the private sector can come in as well, by adopting a school or two and pledging greater support in assisting in making the infrastructure at some schools more appealing to the eye. There are many persons and groups in Barbados that also utilise school facilities for various events, for town hall meetings, branch meetings, dinners and social events etc. Some of these individuals and groups can also get together and encourage others to give back and ensure that the schools which aids in serving them, benefits financially as well. Volunteers can also work to upgrade the school, once the nod is given by principals and Ministry officials. Indeed, parents involved in a trade – carpentry, masonry, tiling, etc., can also lend a hand in sprucing up school plants.
It is time we take greater pride in our educational institutions. Yes, we can leave the technical stuff to the Education Ministry, but there needs to be a more hands on approach to dealing with the issue of maintenance in our schools.