Thibaud Primary School to serve as Centre of Excellence in Special Education: PM Skerrit

The construction of the Thibaud Primary School has begun in Dominica with the groundbreaking ceremony held on Wednesday.

Thibaud Primary School to serve as Centre of Excellence in Special Education: PM Skerrit
Thibaud Primary School to serve as Centre of Excellence in Special Education: PM Skerrit

Roseau, Dominica: The construction of the Thibaud Primary School has begun in Dominica with the groundbreaking ceremony held on Wednesday. Addressing the ceremony, PM Roosevelt Skerrit referred to it as “a striking example of their commitment to providing the children of the country with the best opportunities for success.”

While laying the foundation stone of the school, PM Skerrit expressed pleasure and said that the children of Thibaud constituency will soon have a brand-new school of their own. He said that this afternoon will mark the start of the work of what will be the top-of-the-line- education facility for the children of this community.

Recalling his promise, the prime minister mentioned that some years back, he promised the people of Thibaud that the school would be at the forefront of his priority list. However, due to some other challenges and issues, the people and the students of the constituency have to wait a little longer for the new education setting.

While lauding the citizens for their belief in the government, PM Skerrit thanked them for their cooperation and long wait for the school and said their contribution was extraordinary. He recalled the period of Hurricane Maria as the school was devastated by the natural calamity.

After the passage of Hurricane Maria in 2017, Prime Minister Skerrit pledged to become the world’s first climate-resilient nation and started work towards different sectors. The education sector was one of their priorities and on that front, the government decided to construct six schools in different communities.

Thibaud Primary School was one of these six schools and now the construction has started in the constituency with the ceremony.

Prime Minister Skerrit recalled the period and said that since September, the students of the constituency have attended school in other constituencies. While appreciating their contribution, he said,” Even with this inconvenience, you remain steadfast, knowing that your labour party government will fulfil their promise to view to the children of Thibaud and we are here to deliver that promise.”

He mentioned that the people of the constituency will no longer have to wait as the government will now serve their promise for the upliftment of the students.

PM Skerrit cited, ”As I always say, in some instances, it may take us some time because of the many challenges as a small state, but when we say we will do something then you be assured we will get it done and we get it done here for the people of Thibaud. “

He asserted that today, they are not just laying the foundation stones for building, they are paving the way for a brighter future for children and for generations to come.

“It builds on the significant work we have done in restoring structures since the passage of Hurricane Maria in 2017, ”said the Prime Minister.

Thibaud Primary School benefits

Talking about the facilities in the primary school, PM Skerrit outlined the education structure and said that the government of Dominica will transform the new Thibaud Primary School into a centre for children with special needs.

In addition to that, the government will also provide full scholarships will be provided to the students to pursue studies in education, commencing in September 2024.

He asserted that the school would serve the students with special needs so that the children from other constituencies could also take benefit from this.

He said,” We have to provide in a special way to our special needs children and I’m looking forward to transforming this school into a Centre of Excellence. The students with special needs from different communities can come to school here as we shall provide transportation and ensure every means for them.”

Outlining the amenities of the school, the Prime Minister added that the new primary school will be among the most advanced educational institutions in Dominica and the region.

It will be equipped with modern amenities in contemporary classrooms, featuring spaces for the development of our children’s talents in sports, culture, science, and the visual and performing arts.

This holistic approach to education is meant to ensure that every child can reach their full potential regardless of their background or abilities.

“I am very happy that the students will get to learn, play and grow in the modern education setting, built for purpose. Children will receive the best care and attention when they leave their homes, I look forward to how they will accomplish this when they move to their own child-friendly learning space, ”said PM Skerrit.

Education sector under Labour Government

PM Roosevelt Skerrit also shed light on the efforts made by the Labour Government to enhance the education sector in Dominica. In December, serious work got underway on the new Goodwill Secondary School which will serve as a Centre for Technical and Vocational Education when complete.

PM Skerrit added, ”You also see that the structure has already been taking shape. In a similar fashion, the work has also begun at Calibishi, Sineku, Trotman, and Bellevue Chopin to serve the children.”

PM Skerrit asserted that the efforts represent an investment of over $80M which is a substantial commitment to enhancing the education infrastructure and a testament to their unwavering dedication to education as the cornerstone of national development and prosperity.

The Prime Minister stressed that the government has also been paying attention to providing necessary means to the students so that they could get encouraged for their studies.

PM stated, that the government has also made efforts to ensure that the students have the means to take advantage of access to quality education with free meals, free transportation, free uniforms, free books, school bags, with free stationary, aiming that every single child in Dominica has access to school.

At the secondary school, there is a school transfer grant of $500 to every child who sits in the National Assessment Exam. PM Skerrit noted the government did this because they wanted to ensure that every child who enters secondary school would have new shoes, new pants, a new shirt, a new school bag and stationery.

PM Skerrit added, ”Gone are the days in Dominica, when we had the handing down the clothes, so those who were in higher class would pass on the uniform to their brothers and sisters coming up. Now every single child goes to school brand new.”

Recalling the period before the Labour Government, PM Skerrit said that when he became the Prime Minister of Dominica, there were no nursing degrees or teachers degrees, so they did study and found out that 44% studied the common interest at the time and went to secondary school which means that 56% of children did not make it to secondary school, not because they are not bright, or they didn’t pass the exams, but the Ministry of Education did not accept.

“We stopped that and set a target to achieve universal access to secondary education by 2007, and we achieved this goal in 2005, two years in advance, ”said the prime minister.

He mentioned that in 2000, when he became the Prime Minister of the nation, only 7% of students who took the CXC exam went to college. He said, ”It means 93 out of 100 never made it to college, how could you build the economy, how could you empower people and how could eradicate poverty without children having the opportunity to education, skills, training, and development?.”

However, the government of Dominica invested in education and continued working for the upliftment of the students.

Collaboration with the People’s Republic of China

Notably, the government of Dominica has been constructing six schools under the China Aid Project for the reconstruction of schools post-Hurricane Maria. PM Skerrit said that the government imposes a partnership with the People’s Republic of China having backed a monumental project to construct six new schools across the island including this one here in Thibaud.

“We certainly could not have achieved this without the generous support from the government of the People’s Republic of China”, said PM Skerrit.

He welcomed Ambassador Lin and the staff of the Chinese Embassy to Thibaud and expressed gratitude to the People’s Republic of China for the support of this project here and generous backing for several national development initiatives.

The government of Dominica and the People’s Republic of China completed 20 years of their friendly diplomatic ties. During the groundbreaking ceremony, both governments recalled and appreciated the 20 years of their partnerships

“As we approach 20 years of partnership, the collaboration between our two nations which continues shines as a beacon of solidarity, explaining the fact that how cooperation can transcend boundaries for global good, ”stated the Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.

He extended gratitude to the Ambassador for being here for the milestone of their friendship and said that he is looking forward to the activities they have planned this month to observe their association.