Renewed optimism about the fate of 100-year-old St John school

After what has been described as a productive meeting with Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, the Save Society Primary School Committee (SSPSC) is optimistic of the historic school’s survival.

Chairperson of the committee, Reverend Kim Welch told Barbados TODAY the Prime Minister seemed “fairly” receptive to the idea of preserving the century-old educational institution.

Yesterday’s meeting at Government Headquarters followed the committee’s August 18 discussions with Minister of Education Ronald Jones, which were also described as constructive.

Welch said while the committee may not be successful in having the school, which was officially opened in 1914 and formally closed at the end of the last school year, preserved as is, it may get Government to agree to having “some sort of educational institution [based] there”.

“The Minister [of Education Ronald Jones] is also interested in that . . . . The Prime Minister himself admitted it is too significant a school and too significant an institution to simply be relegated to the past, and he actually lamented that we have quite a few other schools which have gone the way of dead buildings and he wants to see it alive,” she said.

Welch, the priest in charge at the Holy Cross Anglican Church, further reported that though it was now highly unlikely the school would be reopened in time for the new term in September, the plan was to explore the possibility of having something happen in the very near future on that site.

However, she was totally against the proposal of Ministry officials to turn the St John facility into a museum.

In fact, Welch revealed that they were presently seeking sponsors, both local and overseas, to assist with the refurbishment of the building, and to assist with any programmes the committee may want to implement at the location.

“We don’t want it opened for historical reasons. The Ministry is keen on that, but we want it opened as a school, even if not Society Primary, but as a school.

“We want to continue learning in that place. The Ministry was talking about several options, but not necessarily what we were looking at. They were saying a museum or maybe some sort of after school facility for adults, but we are saying that we would still like to have children in that locale, in some form, or doing something with them.

“It would be a matter for the committee that is being set up to determine what sort of life it will take on,” she added.

Though quite optimistic about the future of the school, Welch noted that negotiations and discussions were still ongoing.

“We are actively pursuing options and there are persons who are still interested in maintaining an educational presence on the location and we are willing to work with all entities that are interested to ensure that that is brought to fruition,” Welch added.


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