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Schools maintenance warning from OBA education shadow

Ben Smith, shadow education minister (File photograph)

The maintenance of school buildings must get better, the shadow education minister said yesterday.

Ben Smith warned that renovated schools would deteriorate fast if work was neglected.

Mr Smith said: “We have a lot of buildings that are old – it’s about how you take care of them.

“Private school facilities are extremely old but are well maintained.

“We have to do a better job of maintaining the buildings we have otherwise we will have the same problems in the future.”

Mr Smith was speaking on the Ministry of Education’s plans to renovate nine schools and build a new one as Curtis Dickinson, the finance minister yesterday delivered his Budget statement for the next financial year.

He said it was likely there was no increase in the education or public works budgets because the plan to revamp the schools system was scheduled over the next two to five years.

Mr Dickinson added that there would be a 7 per cent reduction in the Ministry of Education’s budget to $128.1 million in 2021/22 and the Ministry of Public Works share would go down by 5 per cent to about $67 million.

The budget for public land and buildings dropped 2 per cent to $19.6 million.

Mr Smith said: “The Ministry of Education’s plans are down the road.

“What I would say is, in order for us to improve education – look at the amount of money spent on Berkeley Institute and CedarBridge Academy and tell me whether our education improved.

“They spent millions and millions on those facilities.”

Mr Smith added that, because of the importance attached to education “on the doorsteps” in the run up to last October’s General Election, he would have expected more emphasis on it in the Budget.

He said: “You would have thought there would have been considerably more conversation around it.

“As I have said before, we have to focus on our teachers – financing our teachers is a better way for us to improve education.”

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Published February 27, 2021 at 8:53 am (Updated February 27, 2021 at 8:53 am)

Schools maintenance warning from OBA education shadow

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