Bahamas Launches Multi-Million-Dollar Education Project

NASSAU, Bahamas - The education system here is to undergo a significant transformation through a multi-million dollar Bahamas Education Sector Transformation (BEST) project that was launched here on Monday.

jonestruCDB Acting Vice President of Operations, Mrs. Therese Turner-Jones speaks with students from the St. Georges High School at the launch of the BEST projectPrime Minister Phillip Davis speaking at the launch of the US$43 million project said the country is taking significant steps toward making the local educational system more vibrant, inclusive, and resilient.

“This project represents yet another significant investment that we are making in the future success of our children,” he said thanking the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for its role in supporting the development of the nation, as well as the entire region.

“As one of the founding members of the Bank, it is an honour for The Bahamas to have played a part in supporting this nation-building work. The CDB’s loans and grants have been instrumental in fostering progress across various sectors.”

Davis said that locally, major initiatives like the Climate Change Aquaponics project, the Bahamas Mobile Lab Upgrade, and the US$100 million commitment to support the Bahamas’s economic recovery and resilience efforts were all funded by the bank.

He told the audience that the BEST project consists of the construction of the East Grand Bahama Comprehensive School. It also includes the rehabilitation of local schools; as well as the development of an IT strategy and plan for the Ministry of Education and Technical and Vocational Training to modernise operations. There is also training and professional development for 2000 school administrators and teachers under the CDB, CARICOM, and OECS Let’s REAP initiative.

“The goal of the BEST project is to enhance our education system, making it more efficient, inclusive, gender-responsive, relevant, and resilient. By investing in infrastructure, curriculum development, teacher training, and technology integration, we will create an environment where every learner can thrive and reach their full potential.”

Davis said BEST is an investment in providing a quality education to all learners. It is the latest in a series of major initiatives underway at the Ministry of Education as “we get the many children we lost during the pandemic back in school, remediate them, revamp the core curriculum, and make a number of changes to modernise our educational system for future success.

“We cannot afford to let another year go by without making the necessary investments and rolling out the needed reforms to create a better future for education in The Bahamas – not when education is so closely tied to productivity and economic growth. Not when we are going through a time of rapid change when our children will need to be bold, innovative, critical thinkers capable of competing on the world stage.”

He said that the world is going through three major shifts driven by climate change, digital transformation, and population growth.

“These three challenges are what development experts call the triple transition because of their far-reaching impacts on every sector in society.

“If we want to continue to build on the success The Bahamas has enjoyed as the world’s best little country. If we want to continue along the pathway of Bahamian excellence, and ensure that our best days are ahead of us, education is the only way will secure that brighter and better future for our children.”

Davis said that his administration is fully committed to addressing the social and economic needs of Grand Bahama and the population, adding “while we knew we needed broad reforms to our system, we also knew that building a new school in Grand Bahama absolutely had to be a part of this project.

“Our government is steadfast in its commitment to ensuring that every child in our nation has access to the education they deserve, regardless of their background or circumstances.

In closing, I would like to extend my heartfelt appreciation to all stakeholders involved in making the Bahamas Education Sector Transformation Project a reality.”

The CDB said that since the passage of Hurricane Dorian in 2019, students in East Grand Bahama have faced commutes of up to 100 kilometres.

“The COVID-19 pandemic further disrupted the local education system, causing learning losses and exacerbating existing inequities in access to technology. The new and refurbished climate-resilient schools will be designed to improve student achievement, increase access and completion rates, and enhance community life,” the CDB added.

CDB Acting Vice President, Operations, Mrs. Therese Turner-Jones, said the project will uplift the learning environment, improve teaching methods, and strengthen the education system’s governance.

“The CDB is proud of its partnership with The Bahamas. Education is key to making sure all Bahamians have a better than fighting chance of competing in the global labour market. No child, whether he or she is on Sweeting Cay, High Rock, West End, or Freeport should be deprived of learning.

“Education is the single most important investment a government can provide to its population. No one should be left behind. This means including special needs in the education strategy, making use of technology, and ensuring that teachers are equipped to do their jobs,” Mrs. Turner-Jones said.