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Sen. David Andrew: “All of this is because of you”

Minister of Education Sen. Hon. David Andrew speaking to audience at St. David's Catholic Primary School (Photo credit: Dwain Thomas the official photographer to Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell)

To God be the glory, great things he has done… Today, God has answered our prayer.

These were the sentiments expressed by the principal of St. David’s Catholic Primary School Nicole Baptiste as the school held its official ribbon cutting ceremony January 4, 2024, at the school grounds at Petite Esperance, St David.

In addition, spectators and well-wishers alike saw the handing over of the keys to the school by the Minister of Education Sen. David Andrew to the principal.

The event was the culmination of months of discussions, and consultations and refurbishments which cost ECD $4.1 million.

Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell who was present said it is vital to create a space for the nation’s future to grow educationally.

“Not too long ago I was just like one of the students… I think it is important for us sometimes to reflect on what our experiences were, what our journeys were and to appreciate the fact that as adults it’s really incumbent on us to give our little ones the best opportunity, the best chances for first and foremost education and schooling that they enjoy…” he told the gathering.

The Prime Minister who is the Member of Parliament for St David implored the parents of the school to be active in the lives of the students.

“Education is not always just about the intellectual or the sports but oftentimes about your friendship, community, your support group. This school is a symbol of that. It is a symbol of the community of St. David’s. It is a symbol of our togetherness, a symbol of our strength, a symbol of our resilience,” he said.

The Education Minister expressed gratitude for the school and community involvement and cooperation during the relocation process.

“I remember when we first (started) this project and we thought it was going to be a short project, a minor repair and then I learned soon coming into office, it’s not looking like what it seemed… and the project extended,” he said.

I remember having to relocate the school…and the cooperation we got from the community was outstanding. I know it must have been disruptive but you have made it through,” he added.

Commending the school’s child friendly system, Sen. Andrew underscored the advantages attached to the completion of the project.

He felt that if the improvements do not help the children then the labor and financing of the project was in vain.

“The real benefit of it is not just in the upgraded facility… but if that does not trickle down into benefits to the ones in khaki and blue… if it doesn’t trickle down into benefits and improvements for them then we have wasted four million dollars… all of this investment is about ensuring that these little ones benefit more,” he remarked.

The Education Minister reassured the audience that the Ministry of Education and the government will put measures in place to prevent structural damage on school’s buildings.

“It is our commitment … to ensure that we engage in preventive maintenance,” he said.

Expressing satisfaction with the finished product, the school principal is confident that the new facilities will boost the learning experience for the staff as well as the students as they seek to lay a solid foundation for the nation’s future.

“Everyone in attendance should be happy that this lovely building is now complete because it will have a significant impact on how our boys and girls develop intellectually and professionally…,” she said.

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“Therefore, I have no doubt that this improved facility will encourage a better teaching and learning environment for our staff and students. I am confident that the students of this school will make full use of these new facilities, to improve their education and contribute to the country’s progress by achieving full and rewarding lives in the future,” she added.

Speaking on behalf of the Catholic Education Board of Management (CEBM), Secretary Maria Viechweg spoke about the lessons learnt during the construction phase.

“…We have learnt and still continue to learn the importance of education, doing what is difficult without giving up, respect for each other, fairness, sharing and togetherness and all to a life of service to each other,” she said.

The secretary commended the principal, staff and students for their adaptability, commitment and perseverance despite the issues they encountered throughout the years.

“…There were challenging moments as you patiently attended classes daily against odds like rain and sometimes heat and in cases like yours, adaptable locations. This requires very high levels of commitment and the dedication from both you the students and the teachers.”

In expressing her gratitude to the Dickon Mitchell-led Congress administration for their involvement in the school project, Viechweg urged the community to continue playing an active role in the lives of the students.

“…It is at this time I express profound gratitude on behalf of CEBM to the government and other partners for undertaking the project and bringing it to fruition. To you members of the community and the parents from whom much is required more can be asked for.

“We ask you to continue to be present, continue to be the village that raises children to successful lives for that is the legacy we as adults have inherited…care for your young ones, they are our future leaders…”

According to Viechweg, she envisages that the institution will be a source of motivation for everyone who will come in contact with the school and its environment.

“It is our expectation that this new environment will serve as a breath of fresh air to motivate everyone who uses it to higher achievements academically, spiritually, emotionally and socially,” she said.

Project Specialist for Sonrise Construction Inc. Desmond John expressed joy in being a part of the project from beginning to end.

“It is a tremendous privilege because normally a lot of contractors attend the sod-turning ceremony but don’t normally make it to the handing over ceremony,” he remarked.

John who gave an overview of the project revealed that three existing buildings were refurbished – the upper classroom block, lower classroom block and the kindergarten building.

Recalling his initial visit to the school’s compound, he described the environment and experience as disheartening.

“…When we walked on this compound, it was very depressing, it was infested by rodents, infested by termites. There was an ingress of water. It was really amazing to know that in these conditions, it was a learning institution.”

According to the Sonrise Construction Inc. Director, the newly built gazebo replaced the former timber storage building while the new two storey administrative building will now house the principal’s office, washrooms, secretary area, teacher’s staffroom, kitchenette, and toilet area.

“We want to thank the government of Grenada, the Ministry of Infrastructure. Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Finance for collaborating with us to make this project a success,” John said.

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