Ministry of Education officials and the Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda, Gaston Browne, heaped praises on the recently launched Sir Novelle Richards Academy.
On Friday, November 24th, 2017, ministers, dignitaries and residents, attended the official presentation of the secondary school, just months after it was conceptualised.
Chairman of the Board of Education, Leslie-Ann Yearwood, who was charged with overseeing the project, said the team faced many challenges both financially and logistically.
“Our biggest challenge was the roads. If we could not get the roads done, we would not get to the site,” she said.
According to her, physical plans to build the school had already started, even as the authorities were still trying to negotiate a loan for its completion.
Yearwood said, there were moments when she thought the task was impossible, but with the support of her team and the generosity of architects Colin Jenkins and Iza Goodwin Michael, they managed to complete phase one of the facility, in just over three months.
The Board chairman said about five contractors worked day and night to ensure that they met the final deadline.
“The reputation of the Board of Education was being tested and with God’s help we kept our word. It can only be commitment to nation and the cause that would allow two young contractors to take a chance of making such an investment of money, without even a signed contract to begin work with a government entity,” Yearwood noted.
Phase one of the project included; two classroom blocks, an administration block and a home management centre.
“This is history and we’re all a part of it, Yearwood declared. “History, because it is the first school built solely with government funds. It was not donated; it was not a gift; it was built by us – you and me! This is what our contribution to the Education Levy can do.”
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister Gaston Browne told residents that while the construction of the Tomlinson campus may have made history by being the first full government-funded educational facility since 1981, it would not be the last.
“We have very limited resources; we have no mineral resources and we must compete based on our intellect. So building a knowledge-based society is very important to ensure that our people all have the capacity to compete globally because today all competition is global,” he explained.
Phase two of the project, which will see the construction of additional buildings, is expected to begin during the summer of 2018.
The Sir Novelle Richards Academy was named in honour of Sir Novelle Hamilton Richards, who would have turned 100 years old on Friday.
Sir Novelle, who is also the grandfather of Prime Minister Gaston Browne, has been described as one of the outstanding contributors to early nation-building, both nationally and regionally.
He is best known as the composer of Antigua & Barbuda’s National Anthem.