Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit on Wednesday expressed his country’s “profound gratitude to the People’s Republic of China” after Bejing agreed to fund the construction of six schools here totalling US$30 million.
Speaking at the “symbolic” groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the schools, Skerrit said China is once again demonstrating in “a most tangible way the depth and sincerity of its friendship with Dominica.
“There is no denying that Dominica has benefitted from repeated expressions of true friendship from the People’s Republic of China. In sports, in road infrastructure, agriculture and health we have witnessed, over the past 19 years, incredible generosity from the Chinese people and Government,” Skerrit said, noting also the Chinese funding for the Dominica China Friendship Hospital.
“Today, as countries the world over 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, China is keeping true to its word to fund these six new schools in Dominica.
“I want to stress that this is a gift of significant proportion. The schools are valued at US$30 million or EC$81 million, a substantial investment in any currency; and certainly a major injection of funds into the development of Dominica’s education infrastructure.”
He said the investment underscores his administration’s ongoing commitment to advancing human development as part of a long-term strategy for productivity and growth.
“Education, we know, is one of the most important factors in national development and the prosperity of a nation. This administration has, therefore, spared no effort to educate our children to the highest standards and create avenues for them to access lifelong learning.”
He said when the Goodwill Secondary School is completed, the government will take this focus on skills training to the next level.
“Dominican citizens will have access to a fully equipped Center of Excellence for TVET. Here, our young people will be able to select a trade, build on their competencies and prepare for high-paying, competitive jobs in Dominica and the region.
“Today’s turning of the soil symbolizes our ongoing commitment as a Government to give the children of Dominica the best opportunities in education so that they may become productive global citizens; that they may excel in their chosen fields of endeavour; and that they may go on to lead successful, rewarding lives.”
Skerrit, who is also chairman of the 15-member regional integration movement, CARICOM, said that the education thrust is in line with his stated objectives to pursue education reform at the regional level.
“Our young people face a challenging future defined by rapidly evolving technology, which will require more and broader skills in the workplace. We must consider new and better ways to help our students, across the region, learn advanced skills; and redesign our school curriculum to ensure they are able to succeed in school, in the global workspace, and in their personal lives.
“I am focused on pushing this agenda with my CARICOM counterparts because I want to help create a future where every Dominican and Caribbean citizen has a fair shot at a successful life,” he added.
In his address, China’s ambassador to Dominica, Lin Xianjiang, said Beijing fully understands the importance of the schools project to Dominica to the point that a senior foreign government official, who visited here recently, had also pledged to ensure the project was a success.
He said also that a senior member of the construction firm “had come all the way from Beijing to attend the groundbreaking ceremony.
‘What I can assure you is that the six schools will be the most advanced and modern in Dominica and even the Caribbean region,” he said, adding due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic the progress of the project had been delayed.