More schools may be needed

An aggressive new school construction programme which aims to build three new high schools and a new elementary school in Grand Cayman by September 2010 may not be enough to meet the island’s future needs, according to Education Minister Alden McLaughlin.


Mr. McLaughlin

‘I would warrant that in four years time, we’re going to have to build another one of these (high) schools,’ Mr. McLaughlin told the Legislative Assembly during his budget debate last week.

Not only would there be a need for another high school somewhere in Grand Cayman, Mr. McLaughlin estimated that West Bay district would need a second elementary school to defray the burgeoning population at John Cumber Primary, which now has some 500 students on campus.

Mr. McLaughlin said it’s obvious the country’s classroom space is insufficient to meet its current needs.

Cayman’s estimated public school population is 4,561 students, with the private school enrolment at 2,582. Mr. McLaughlin said the country has spent more than $1 million on some 62 classes which are now housed in modular buildings.

The minister said that student population was expected to grow steadily through the early part of the next decade, according to projections made by the ministry.

During his debate, Mr. McLaughlin repeatedly blamed the previous government for not preparing future generations for the globalised marketplace.. Several members of the previous United Democratic Party government are now members of the opposition, and Mr. McLaughlin aimed most of his comments at them.

‘They have the audacity to go on the talk shows and say we shouldn’t build new schools,’ Mr. McLaughlin said. ‘They should be beating me up to build more.

‘Unless something happens to my tongue, the country shall be reminded…of the obstacles and the hurdles to improving teaching and learning…which are continuing to be put in the way of this government and myself to prevent Caymanians….from having world class facilities and from having world class opportunities.’

Mr. McLaughlin said investment in education is often a political hard sell, but that he intended to pursue it as long as he remained in political office.

‘The rewards of this investment in children may not be readily apparent to anyone except the parents and teachers involved,’ Mr. McLaughlin said. ‘But this government is preparing for the future of education.’