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New school for Salisbury, three years later

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In addition, the internal layout of the buildings was also redesigned to accommodate seven regular classrooms which include an early childhood development section, a computer lab, a library and literacy room, art room, an auditorium, an adult education classroom and a school feeding programme (kitchen and cafeteria). The new layout also provided for a staff room and principals office, storage and utilities room and new washroom facilities

Minister for Education Octavia Alfred cutting the ribbon at official ceremony for the handing over of the new school Minister  for  Education, Human Resource Planning, Vocational Training and National Excellence, Octavia Alfred has stated that the new amenities at the newly-opened Salisbury Primary School are set to enhance teaching and learning at the institution.

On October 14, 2020, following three years of reconstruction, the new primary school was officially handed over to the staff and students of the Salisbury Community.

Due to the impact of Hurricane Maria in 2017, schooling was interrupted for 100 percent of Dominican students. Out of  the 136 schools and educational centers on the island,  62 needed minor repairs, while 52 were partially  damaged and 67 suffered high damage.

The Salisbury Primary School was one of the schools severely damaged necessitating a relocation of school classes to two community churches. Months later, the Government was able to secure US1 million dollars from the government of India with other international agencies as implementing partners.

The government of  Canada, through the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), supported with funding, to construct the school. Significant support was also provided by the Cuban government in the form of labor to advance construction. Later, the ministry of education engaged Argos construction to complete the project.

In delivering the feature address, at the ceremony, Alfred said, “not only are we expecting improvement in students performance, we also anticipate improvement in behaviours and attitudes which can play a role to enhance the  learning process. This new stimulating environment I believe, will raise the expectation of parents and  teachers and act as a powerful motivator for overall success.”

Throughout the life of the project, significant aid was provided by the United Nations Development  Programme, (UNDP) in  Dominica which served as the implementing partner for the  government of India.

Head of the Dominica Office of UNDP, Luis Francisco Thais, said the collaboration and hard work which went into reconstructing and revamping the Salisbury school confirms once again, the government’s unparalleled commitment to become the first climate resilient nation in the world.

Some of the new upgrades that Thais highlighted include the  restoration of both buildings to meet wind and seismic standards such as rebuilding column footings, strip  footings, sheer walls and structural steel beams and new metal roof structures. Windows and doors as well as electrical and plumbing materials were also replaced and new exterior and internal walls were constructed.

In addition, the internal layout of the buildings was also redesigned to accommodate seven regular classrooms which include an early childhood development section, a computer lab, a library and literacy room, art room, an auditorium, an adult education classroom and a school feeding programme (kitchen and cafeteria). The new layout also provided for a staff room and principals office, storage and utilities room and new washroom facilities.

The lower section of the school was outfitted with all necessary amenities to encourage students’ participation and attendance and enhance the learning experience. An early childhood facility also forms part of the new structure to cater to pupils between three and five years.

Ministry of Trade, Commerce, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Business and Export Development, Ian Douglas, who represented the Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit at the ceremony, also gave some remarks.

He described the occasion as “remarkable,” and expressing gratitude to the several counties and international organizations who contributed to its realization.

According to Douglas, the government will continue to create the enabling environments to cause communities to empower themselves and to make it possible for every Dominican to get an opportunity to excel.

“Resilience has  been the philosophy of this government, especially after Hurricane Maria, and  we do not only mean in infrastructure but resilience of the entire economy and  most importantly resilience of people, the  citizenry of Dominica,” Douglas noted. “And that’s what we’re doing; we are building for the future, not only in the types  of structures we are building, but also in the lives that we are molding, the students here, making them even more resilient than they were before the hurricane.”

Douglas encouraged the residents of Salisbury to embrace the new learning facility and not only view it as such but also as a place where they can gather to partake in activities which  will enhance the entire community and surrounding areas.