Education sector benefiting from improvements in the economy — Reid

Observer writer

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

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ROSE HALL, St James — Senator Ruel Reid says the education sector has started to benefit from improvements in the economy.

“I will share some good news with you, we are better off now than we have ever been before, [because] a lot of the wonderful things that are happening in the economy. You guys would have benefited from that kind of stability… so we have been able to provide more support for the education system as a result of improvements in the economy,” the education minister said.

Senator Reid noted that the country had gone through several years of financial hardships, pointing out, for example, that six years ago the country's debt to gross domestic product (GDP) had skyrocketed to approximately 149 per cent.

“Over time this had resulted, for example, in the Government adopting cost sharing, because their fiscal arrangements were in such shambles that they could not keep up with the funding of the education system. The country was only able to pay back its debt, and as a result had no room for infrastructure support and the construction of new schools,” Senator Reid explained.

Now, he said, money for the education sector is being provided on a timely basis.

“The reason why you can get the money early, and with precision, is because of revenue certainty. Once the minister of finance approves our budget, the money now, is certain,” the minister argued.

Senator Reid was, for the first time since becoming minister in 2016, addressing the Association of Principals and Vice-Principals during its 26th annual conference held on Sunday at Jewel Grand Resort in Rose Hall, St James.

He noted that this fiscal year, there were increases in budgetary allocations to various areas of the education system.

Meanwhile, Senator Reid disclosed that four schools were taken off the shift system last year, bringing the total remaining number of schools on that system to 38.

He noted that a number of schools currently on the shift system that can be expanded are currently on a programme to create additional classroom space to take them off the system, while new facilities will be constructed for those schools that cannot be expanded.

“Those like Old Harbour High who can't be expanded, we have to find new schools to be built,” he stressed.

He said over the next few years, the Government plans to build 17 new schools, which will result in the end of the shift system across the island.

The Government, he added, is expected to begin the construction of five such institutions shortly.

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