Newly constructed Administrative and Science Blocks at St. Mary’s Secondary School are providing much needed capacity for its growing student population.
A dedication ceremony was held Tuesday at the school to commission the buildings which were constructed under the second basic education programme following the signing of an agreement between the Government of Antigua and Barbuda and the Caribbean Development Bank several years ago.
Previously, St. Mary’s Secondary School’s capacity was capped at 200 students, with an enrolment of 182 pupils. Now, the expansion allows for 350 students with a current population of 220.
Minister of Education and Sports Daryll Mathew said the expansion of the school, and other institutions of learning, is an example of the government’s commitment to education which he described as “profound”.
“I need not mention our success with the University of the West Indies being domiciled here in Antigua and Barbuda. A few weeks ago we opened a new wing at the Sir Novelle Richards Academy. Today, we are dedicating this completed facility. In a few weeks, we will be opening an Early Childhood Centre in Buckleys.”
The education minister used his remarks to make a pitch for an early childhood centre to be constructed which will serve the south of the island. He proposed that this centre could be constructed on part of the nine acre St. Mary’s Secondary School campus.
“The experts will let you know that a child’s ability to learn is at its peak between the ages of zero and five years old and so if our children, in this case in the south, but more generally if our children in Antigua and Barbuda are to achieve the greatness that we know we have the potential to achieve, we must start at the early childhood level,” Minister Matthew maintained.
Saint Mary’s South Parliamentarian Samantha Marshall credited her father, former MP Hugh Marshall Sr., with foresight having convinced his Cabinet colleagues many decades earlier to construct a secondary school in the area.
She said schools outside of the city carried a stigma for many years, but today that image is changing with St. Mary’s Secondary School serving as a prime example of the quality education offered.
“As a representative, I am one of them who have always said don’t call me to tell me you don’t want your child to attend the St. Mary’s Secondary School. Don’t call me to tell me you don’t want your child to attend Jennings. As the representative, I have full confidence in the quality of education that you can get at the south school. That means I have full confidence in the principal and the teachers that are here.”
Minister Marshall stated the expansion is a “positive transformation” with opportunities for future development.