Education Minister Hon. Natalio ‘Sowande’ Wheatley is defending the government’s response to the ongoing maintenance issues are various public schools.
He said there are persons who are bent on painting a picture that the issues are new.
“We have had maintenance challenges in our school system for many, many years. Right now, we are seeing challenges with mold. But it would not be fair to say these challenges have just popped up. These challenges have existed in our education system for quite a long time,” he said last evening during the Virgin Islands
Party (VIP) radio programme.
Hon. Wheatley, who holds five more portfolios, said it is being peddled that he is throwing blame at former education ministers.
“It has been said in the media that when it comes to maintenance challenges, that I have been blaming others and avoiding blame. But if persons check the tape…many persons misconstrued what you say and try to twist it,” he said.
The minister added, “but if you listen to me speak over the past few weeks, I keep repeating the same phrase—I say many persons in politics want to blame and avoid blame but as a leader, as someone who seeks to improve the education system and other systems as well, it is important to take responsibility and to solve challenges.”
He said the government has been working assiduously to address the issues.
“So, since we have come into office, we have taken the maintenance issues in the school seriously. It has taken time and we have some challenges but we have been consistent with addressing them,” he said.
The minister mentioned the $4M spent on the L-Shape building at the Elmore Stoutt High School (ESHS), the refurbished Bregado Flax Educational Centre on Virgin Gorda (VG) and the advancement of plans to build a new primary school on Jost Van Dyke (JVD).
“All of the challenges in the education system existed before but I have taken responsibility to make sure that these challenges that I have met, [I am] not going to leave them for others to be able to confront,” he said.
The Education Minister continued: “And that is not for my own glorification, that is for the safety and protection for the teachers, students and administrators.”