Upgrades necessary to learning environment
Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training Santia Bradshaw says the government has to re-focus its attention on maintenance and upkeep of its buildings.
She was speaking as she officially opened the new multi-purpose classroom block, at the C. Lomer Alleyne Training Centre of the Barbados Vocational Training Board located at Sayes Court in Christ Church.
The Minister said it had become increasingly apparent that there is a correlation between physical spaces and the learning environment, adding that the upgrade under the Skills For The Future (SFTF) Program was a testimony of this ethos.
“The provision of this new classroom block will ensure that the Barbados Vocational Training Board (BTVB) is one step closer to institutional accreditation,” Bradshaw said, adding that the facility would house workshops in training in areas inclusive of cosmetology, horticulture, welding, tiling and masonry, and would provide a more amenable physical environment, which would be conducive to improved learning.
The funding for the project was provided by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) while its construction came via the assistance of Mahy Ridley Hazzard Engineers Ltd. and C.R.S. Build and Maintenance Inc.
However, Bradshaw stressed the building alone could not infuse the vision and passion that underpins the institution’s development and its course offerings.
“It is the interaction between staff and students; the willingness on both sides to be part of the improvements in the teaching and learning culture, which will make the difference that ensures that the new classroom block supports higher development,” she said.
Meantime Education Specialist at the IDB, Sabine Rieble Aubourg, said she was satisfied that the Bank had given the construction project a “No Objection”.
Echoing similar sentiments as the Minister, Ms Aubourg, who led the SFTF Program along with Government since 2012, said the IDB was happy it could contribute to the centre’s infrastructure. She pointed out that while a training school should provide a good learning environment, which this multi-purpose facility did, infrastructure was but one piece of the puzzle.
She said: “Other ingredients, are, of course, you have to have qualified instructors, relevant and pertinent curriculum, teachers, instructors, school principals and, in this case, executive directors who have very high expectations for every student…. These are the pieces that are required to deliver quality education.”
The IDB official commended the contractors who worked on the project and expressed the Bank’s satisfaction, saying “it was the first and only construction project that was completed in time and within budget”.
And, she stated: “This is really a great joy, and … I really hope that this new building and with all the quality education you get here [it] will help to produce a top-notch labour force for Barbados…. We hope that the training provided here will give the students not only a very strong foundation in basic skills regarding literacy, numeracy and science, but very strong technical teams, and what we now call the 21st-century skills or life skills.
“And, most importantly the ability to keep learning throughout your life…. Even if you complete your training here, you are not done yet. You have to continue to upgrade your skills and hopefully, you will be able to come back to this facility and take advantage of it.”
Meanwhile, Director of BVTB, Henderson Thompson, acknowledging that the project was conceptualized way back in 1997, expressed appreciation to the Ministry, contractors and the IDB, and noted that the professional manner brought “the building project to its conclusion".