All schools in Barbados are not created equal.
That’s the assertion of Member of Parliament for St Philip North, Dr Sonia Browne, who said the primary schools in the rural constituency needed better sporting facilities, libraries and computer labs.
Speaking on Wednesday, the second day of the Budget debates in the House of Assembly, she said she expects that with the construction of 17 mini stadia across the country, her constituents, including the young athletes who participated in the recently held NAPSAC, would benefit.
“I have five primary schools in my constituency and having witnessed the NAPSAC and inter school competition lately, I was there for a couple of them. It was glaringly obvious which schools had more opportunity and which schools did not. I witnessed some of the town schools outfitted to the hilt, track shoes that I for the first time … got to see up close and personal, gear all fancy aerodynamic clothes and …sweat proof clothes, and then there was the other set, the smaller schools who nobody actually paid for them to do classes and track and field clubs, nothing like that.
“The other schools wearing their baggy uniforms, either running barefoot, or shoes that are not tracks. So when we say that all schools are equally bad, I beg to differ when it comes to opportunities with sports. So, I would wish that really, really, really, quickly that we get these mini stadia because we need to encourage our children,” said Browne.
St Philip Primary, Hilda Skeene Primary, Bayley’s Primary, St Catherine’s Primary, and St Mark’s Primary are the schools in the constituency.
The Minister of State in the Ministry of Health and Wellness bemoaned the lack of space at St Mark’s Primary which occupies four buildings on less than a quarter acre of land saying the more than 200 students enrolled had “no space” to exercise “other than to walk across the road”.
“…Some of these schools have not been given the opportunity to be involved in things like swimming. We made it clear on the platform that every child in Barbados needs to learn how to swim. The argument is that we have beaches in the country. My argument is if any of you have visited the beaches that I grew up using, there are now eroded – thanks climate change and I’m happy that the Prime Minister’s fighting on that end – … and rocky, nobody can learn to swim there.
“The only other area is the [Wildey] Gymnasium and if you travel from St. Philip to the Gymnasium the day is over, or you miss the classes, and it’s a waste of time to learn to swim. I hope these mini stadia will consider the inclusion of a pool not only to benefit St. Philip North but the rural constituencies that are begging for little help in this area,” she said.
Browne also called for safety and security measures at the schools to protect both students and parents. (GBM)