Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
Even though it is Government's agenda to make all learning environments conducive to effective instruction and learning, it must be noted that having all public classrooms air conditioned is easier said than done, according to Hon. Myron Walwyn, Education and Culture Minister.
The Minister in responding to questions posed by Third District Representative Hon. Julian Fraser at a recent sitting of the House of Assembly, said they will have to take a holistic approach to the matter, noting that high cost of electricity will also have to be taken into account.
Hon. Fraser had asked whether there is a programme in place to eventually have all schools 100% air conditioned.
Minister Walwyn said in the past, air conditioning units have been placed in classrooms, but it was found that the electrical systems could not provide the required electricity to keep the systems functional. He said in many cases, the electrical wiring of the schools needs to be totally re-done.
The Minister stated that electrical upgrades, which might include having the Electricity Corporation provide transformers for each school, must take place.
"All this, Madame Speaker, is at great cost. We must also take into consideration the electricity costs. Our bills for schools have increased exponentially with the addition of air conditioning over the years. Therefore, Madame Speaker, a full plan has to be put in place with total costing before we can embark on all schools being air conditioned. We have to consider seriously, alternative means of energy in order to embark on this exercise. Notwithstanding this Madame Speaker, I would like to reiterate my conviction to ensure that our learning environments are conducive to teaching and learning and we will work on a programme that is cost effective," the Minister stated.
Hon. Fraser then commented, "I like the part with easier said than done; that was the same thing we were saying before November 11."
Meanwhile, the Minister was also asked by Hon. Fraser what percentage of the classrooms of each public school is air conditioned, given his understanding that some of the Territory's public schools are air conditioned, either in whole or in part.
Hon. Walwyn said based on the report submitted by the Maintenance Supervisor of the public schools, 100% of the classrooms are air conditioned at the Robinson O'Neal Memorial Primary, Bregado Flax Educational Centre - Primary Division, Claudia Creque Educational Centre, Leonora Delville Primary School, Ivan Dawson Primary School and the new structure at the Francis Lettsome Primary School.
However, he said Joyce Samuel Primary School, Althea Scatliffe Primary School, the old structure at the Francis Lettsome Primary School, Willard Wheatley Primary School, Enis Adams Primary School and Enid Scatliffe Pre-Primary School do not have air conditioned classrooms.
The House was informed that Isabella Morris Primary School, Bregado Flax Educational Centre - Secondary Division and Elmore Stoutt High School has approximately fifty percent of their classrooms air conditioned.
Minister Walwyn further informed the House that as part of his Ministry's plans to make schools more comfortable, in recent months they have added units to eight classrooms at the Alexandrina Maduro Primary School as well as additional units commissioned for the Isabella Morris Primary to make it 100% air conditioned. He said work was also done at the Leonora Delville Primary, the Jost Van Dyke School and the Claudia Creque Educational Centre.
"Sixteen units are being placed at the Ebenezer Thomas Primary which had no units before. However, the work at the Ebenezer Thomas School, Madame Speaker, is still in progress as there were some electrical problems which needed to be worked out and this I understand is being done, if not completed, for the installation of the units. Madame Speaker, this work is expected to be completed within the month," the Minister stated.
Minister Walwyn said even though some of the classrooms are air conditioned, some of the schools either require new units or an electrical upgrade to carry the load that functioning air conditioning units will place on the electrical system.