Minister of Education Kay McConney is in full support of the proposed state-of-the-art dental school in St Lucy, citing opportunities as the driving force behind its imminent construction.
Speaking in Parliament Tuesday during the discussion of the Resolution for the compulsory acquisition of just over nine acres of land, McConney said she believed the institution will be of benefit to the nation’s economy and its citizens.
“It is about the opportunity for us to increase our trade in services using education as an export,” she said. “It is our chance to bring additional opportunities, not only to international students, but also to local markets. For these three reasons (development, trade and opportunities) that I certainly stand to support this resolution.”
The proposed dental school and its accompanying facilities will be built in the north of the island once the Government of Barbados acquires the 9.024 acres of land from Fairview Investment Fund.
Added to the institution, the 83-acre project will consist of a six-storey residence to house 400 international students in the first instance, an oral pathology laboratory and oral radiology centre along with restaurants, convenience stores, a hotel and a facility to host international medical conferences.
Making note of the tendency for Barbadians to travel abroad for higher education and employment opportunities, McConney added that it was now time for Barbados to continue to develop their educational sector so that it could become a destination for people to travel to for education and training.
“This dental school gives us that kind of opportunity. When we talk about using education as an export to help us in our development and growth, it is about whether we bring institutions here that will bring investment and foreign currency to this country and have a physical presence here. It is if we allow access to our education services via online methods and approaches.”
The Minister of Education continued saying “It gives us the opportunity for government and industry to work more closely together in the kinds of partnerships that can be redone to the benefit of this country, in this case healthcare. It gives us the opportunity to build global partnerships as Barbados seeks to make sure that we are recognised as a country that is world class.”
In her eyes, this investment will not only bring in foreign investment but also jobs for locals who will work at the site and also those conducting business in the surrounding communities.
However, the representative of St Philip West cautioned that any educational entity that arrived in Barbados must not bring the nation’s name into disrepute.
“We have to ensure that the reputation of these institutions is of a level that will not take the reputation of Barbados with it should there be a fallout in that situation,” she explained.
“We have had that experience here in Barbados and we have to be vigilant and ensure that these types of facilities come here not just for economic profit, but more fundamentally, that they pay attention to the educational quality so that the recognition and the reputation of the institution and indeed of this country, will remain significant.” (JC)