State of the art Westminster Secondary School Completed

– No more Primary Tops for Region Three

The Westminster Secondary School is finally completed and will be ready for the new school year starting September 2021. Today, the Honourable Minister of Education Priya Manickchand visited the state of the art facility which is located in La Parfaite Harmonie community of Region Three.

Minister Manickchand said today that the school is one of six schools that were conceived of in 2013 because at that time the Ministry of Education wanted to achieve Universal Secondary Education in Guyana.

Minister Manickchand testing the sinks in one of the laboratories along with contractor Mr. Bassoo and Regional Education Officer, Mr. Devindra Persaud

She said that from six schools, the amount was reduced to three, the Westminster Secondary, the Good Hope Secondary and the Prospect Secondary School.

Minister Manickchand said that it is unfortunate that the schools were not completed over the last five years. She said, however, that her government is insistent on completing each school for those children that stand to benefit.

Minister Manickchand engaging the contractor and consultants during her visit today

“This one is ready for it to be handed over to us. It is a beautiful school. It is probably going to be one of our most resourced school given the labs we have seen and we want to make sure that the children of Region Three can benefit from it,” Minister Manickchand remarked.

The Education Minister added that the school together with a dormitory to be built at Leonora, will allow the Ministry to close all Primary Tops in Region Three. She explained that a Primary Top is a department within a Primary School that caters for children of secondary school age that have no formal secondary school to attend. These students would continue to attend primary school but receive secondary level education.

Minister Manickchand and team viewing the theatre room

She said that this situation is undesirable and not likely to produce the results for which the Ministry is aiming.  “It’s not likely to give students the opportunities they need to survive best in this world. So that’s why we conceived of these schools in the first place. I am extremely excited to be able to do that in Region Three,” Minister Manickchand noted.

Moreover, Minister Manickchand gave an update on the Good Hope Secondary School. She said that the construction process continues to present challenges but is hopeful that it can also be ready for September to serve the students of Region Four. She said that the completion of the Good Hope Secondary School will allow the Ministry to close all Primary Tops on the East Coast of Demerara.

One of the science laboratories in the new school

The Chief Education Officer, Dr. Marcel Hutson, Regional Education Officer, Mr. Devindra Persaud, Coordinator of the Guyana Secondary Education Improvement Project (GSEIP), Mr. Jimmy Bhojedat and Special Projects Officer, Mr. Ron Eastman along with the contractor and consultant accompanied Minister Manickchand on today’s visit.

The contract to build the Westminster Secondary School was awarded to R. Bassoo and Sons. Construction began in October 2018 and was scheduled to be completed in January 2020.

On assuming office in August 2020, Education Minister Priya Manickchand had stressed Government’s zero tolerance for delayed works and warned contractors to ensure that work is done within the contractual time. She said that the Ministry had worked closely with R. Bassoo and Sons Construction Inc and the consulting firm Deen and Partners/SRKN Engineering to ensure the school is completed.

A front view of the completed Westminster Secondary School (Ameer Sattaur photo, DPI)

The total cost of the school is approximately $1B and was funded by the World Bank through the GSEIP. All of the furniture and necessary equipment have already been bought and will be installed as soon as the building is handed over to the Ministry.

The Westminster Secondary School has 32 classrooms, a language lab, dance studio, library, Physics, Chemistry and Biology laboratories, an Information Technology Laboratory, a theatre room, a Mathematics laboratory, Home Economics Laboratory and an Agriculture Science Laboratory among other facilities built to provide the best education to the nation’s children.

A section of the Westminster Secondary School

It will accommodate 1000 students and will therefore be a Grade A school. For now, it will be categorized as a List B school which speaks to quality but that status will change over the next two years according to the Minister. She added that the Ministry intends to make the school a Sixth Form school to offer the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE).

She said that the school will be staffed with competent graduate teachers and the relevant staff. Minister Manickchand said that the school will be a model to show that once resources are available coupled with trained teachers, children from any part of Guyana can perform well.