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Students forced to learn in guesthouse

NASSAU — While Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald has boasted of a multimillion-dollar school upgrade around The Bahamas, more than 30 students at Colonel Hill High School on Crooked Island had to crowd into a small guesthouse because their school remains severely damaged from Hurricane Irene more than a year ago.

The battered school is still relatively untouched with textbooks strewn across the floor, unmoved; some of the walls collapsed and there is severe roof damage.

Last December, Chinese Ambassador to The Bahamas Hu Shan donated $10,000 to the government to help with school repairs.

Some students at the time said they hoped the donation would bring the necessary relief to aid the restoration of the school.

Former Education Minister Desmond Bannister said that back in March the Ingraham administration had approved funding for the restoration of the school.

Fitzgerald said back in July that the government had allocated $650,000 to fix schools on the Family Islands.

However, to date no repairs have started on the school.

Fitzgerald said Wednesday he was unaware of the current state of the school and that he knew nothing of the donation, adding that he would have to look into it.

Maegan Colebrooke, the school’s new principal, said she hopes something happens soon.

“I don’t want the students of Crooked Island to feel that they don’t deserve the same attention that students in C.R. Walker or H.O. Nash receive from the government. They are just as important,” Colebrooke said.

“They need to know that, and in order to do that we need to rebuild our school with haste. It’s urgent.”

Thirty-three students attend the school, which includes grades seven through 12, and there are nine teachers.

Students were relocated to the guesthouse last September.

According to Colebrooke, there is a bar on the same property as the temporary school.

“We need to be back in our old building because there is no space where we are now,” Colebrooke said.

“The temporary facility is inadequate because the rooms are really small and even though our student population is small, the rooms are still not big enough.”

Because of the limited number of rooms we do not have a staff room and we do not have an office for the principal.” (Nassau Guardian)

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