Chinese Ambassador to Dominica, Lin Xianjiang, has proclaimed that once completed, the Goodwill Secondary School (GSS) and five other primary schools currently under construction with China’s aid will emerge as the most advanced educational institutions in Dominica and the Caribbean region.
Ambassador Lin made these remarks during the groundbreaking ceremony for the China-aided project, which encompasses the construction of six schools, including GSS, Thibaud Primary School, Tete Morne Primary School, the extension of Sineku Primary School, Calibishie Primary School, and a new school to accommodate students from Bellevue Chopin, Pichelin, and Petite Savanne who are presently situated at Bellevue Chopin.
Understanding that education provides the foundation for the pursuit of development and to maintain vitality, the Ambassador stressed that after Hurricane Maria, Dominican students now need new modern schools for better education.
He underlined that these state-of-the-art facilities being erected by China’s Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, are designed to provide Dominican children with a modern, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing learning environment.
The Chinese diplomat said that this endeavour represents another significant milestone in Dominica’s post-Hurricane Maria school reconstruction project and underscored the deep-rooted friendship between China and Dominica.
The Goodwill Secondary School, which accounts for approximately 40% of the entire construction effort, will be the first to be constructed.
Ambassador Lin went on to provide a timeline of the project’s progress, starting with the exchange of notes signed on April 27, 2020, in which the Chinese government committed to reconstructing the six schools damaged by Hurricane Maria. These schools collectively span 12,117 square meters.
Despite challenges posed by the global COVID-19 pandemic, supplementary agreements were signed on December 20, 2021, and after numerous rounds of communication with the Chinese Embassy, the construction scale was expanded by 6% to accommodate additional facilities like staff offices and safety rooms.
The Ambassador highlighted the dedication of the investigation team who conducted inspections in Dominica in May 2022 and who, according to him, worked diligently for over 40 days, even revising design plans based on real-time conditions.
For his part, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit expressed his gratitude for what he said was China’s unwavering friendship and generous support over the past 19 years to Dominica across various sectors, including sports, infrastructure, agriculture, and health.
He noted that as the world continues to experience shortfalls in revenue and economic uncertainty, caused largely by the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the investment by China into Dominica’s education system “is a gift of a significant proportion.”
“The schools are valued at over US $30 million, or over EC $81 million. A substantial investment in any currency and certainly a major injection of funds into the development of Dominica’s education infrastructure,” the Prime Minister said
Skerrit stressed the importance of education as a cornerstone of national development and prosperity, which is one of the reasons he says this administration has spared no effort to educate Dominican children to the highest standards and create avenues for them to access lifelong learning.
He highlighted the government’s dedication to providing high-quality education, citing initiatives such as the $15 million Dominica Education Enhancement Project (DEEP) which supported the intervention of the Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programs at secondary schools.
The Prime Minister stated his intention to retool Dominica’s workforce with competencies for the Caribbean vocational qualification (CVQ) which will allow for easy movement across the region for work and said that upon completion, the GSS will take this focus on skill training to the next level.
“Dominican citizens will have access to a fully equipped Center of Excellence for technical vocational education and training. Here, our young people will be able to select a trade, build on the competencies and prepare for higher paying competitive jobs in Dominica and the region,” he declared.
“I want this to be a place where the young men and women of Tarish Pit, Stock Farm, Yampiece, Fond Cole, and Gutter can sign up to learn a skill to create new streams of income for themselves and their families,” he remarked. “Here we will grow our CVQ programs to upskill and reskill our young people for tomorrow’s economy and certify our citizens to find and indeed create decent work wherever they live.”
Skerrit, who is also serving as CARICOM Chairman, emphasized the importance of education reform at a regional level. He recognized the need for updated curricula and advanced skills to prepare students for an evolving workplace.
As such, he vowed to work with regional counterparts to ensure every Caribbean citizen has the opportunity for a successful and fulfilling life.