While acknowledging that long-standing challenges in the territory’s education system must be addressed, Dr Wheatley dismissed charges of lip service that has been made against him by sections of the public.
The education minister said during a recent update on the reopening of schools that consistent efforts are being made to address teachers’ concerns in the territory.
Apart from a salary review that Cabinet agreed to in January of 2021, Dr Wheatley said that during the most recent Cabinet meeting, he asked for special consideration to be given to teachers.
He reminded persons that Cabinet also decided in 2019 to pay outstanding increments for 2016 and 2017.
“The first of these payments has already been made and the second was interrupted by the pandemic,” the minister stated.
“Has enough been done?” Dr Wheatley then asked. “The answer is ‘no’. And I agree with our teachers that more improvements must be made and my colleagues and I will continue to work for better working conditions for our teachers.”
Regarding better working conditions, the minister reminded residents that his government expended around four million dollars, just after taking office, to refurbish the now L Adorothy Turnbull building at the Elmore Stoutt High School.
He said a quarter of a million dollars was spent on improving ESHS’ Pasea campus, another $134,000 was used to repair the tent in Virgin Gorda, and $1.7 million was spent to redevelop the Bregado Flax Centre.
Furthermore several hundreds of thousands were expended on school repairs and mould mitigation, the minster added.
And according to Dr Wheatley, while these are just some examples, his government has also committed to many more millions for additional school buildings on the ESHS campus to get students from ESHS’s temporary campus in Pasea.
He further noted that students now have the capabilities to switch to online or hybrid/blended learning as the need may arise.
“With the blended learning approach, on-site learning will be combined with some online learning and students at home may require parental supervision,” Dr Wheatley stated.
He called for unity as the key to the territory’s success and said students, parents, teachers, principals, and the ministry all have major roles to play in the success of the upcoming school year.
“We must have an open mind, be flexible and positive. I appeal to employers to assist us by allowing some flexibility to employees who have school-aged children,” the minister stated.