As The University of the West Indies Five Islands looks to expand its campus, the Ministry of Education has fixed its eyes on the land the Five Islands Primary School now occupies.
According to a media report, Education Minister of Daryll Matthew confirmed that he has been given the job of finding new quarters for the primary institution, since its eight acres will be taken in by the adjacent university.
Matthew reportedly claimed that the school will remain in the community, but in its new location will be built into a state-of-the-art institution.
Other sources say the new school will incorporate both the primary and secondary levels – meeting the need for a senior institution to catch the overflow from the Ottos Comprehensive and Princess Margaret Schools.
Meanwhile, the media report says that four parcels of land have been identified to facilitate the university’s 50-acre expansion plans. One parcel has already been acquired and an architectural firm has been engaged to design the expansion, the news article says.
Senator Richard Lewis, the United Progressive Party’s Candidate for St. John’s Rural West, tells REAL News he is monitoring the situation closely.
While he does not know much about the school’s new composition, Lewis says, what he does know is that no plans to relocate or rebuild the Five Islands Primary were included in the 2022 National Budget.
“I warned from the onset of the secondary-school debacle that there were plans to huff the lands occupied by the Five Islands Primary school. Some people were not listening. It is now becoming a reality,” the Senator says.
And of the university’s need for 50 acres of land for expansion, he asks: “Where are they going to get that from? The residents living in close proximity to the campus need to pay keen attention. They are coming for their lands.”
Lewis says the residents of Five Islands need to be consulted on this matter. “The residents of Five Islands and, by extension, the people of Rural West cannot rest easy. How much more can we take, Rural West? How much more?” he asks.
He notes that there had been an earlier plan under the Antigua Labour Party to close the Five Islands Primary and bus the children to the Green Bay School. “I understand that talk is emerging again,” Lewis says.
In the meantime, other people are wondering when expansion of the Golden Grove Primary will begin.
Reportedly, private lands are being acquired to facilitate the extension of that institution, and there is now speculation that the Five Islands students could be sent there in the interim.