The government has broken ground for the construction of an upgraded Harrison Center; Antigua and Barbuda Institute for Continuing Education (ABICE), following a donation of 4M pounds sterling (12.5M ECD) from the UK-based Harrison Foundation.
The Ministry of Education had initially requested money from the foundation for retrofitting however according to Education Minister Daryl Mathew, David Harrison, the founder of the foundation said Antigua and Barbuda was being too “modest”
He said it took just about a few hours for the architect Chad Alexander and his team to redesign the structure, which was approved by the foundation.
“When we first spoke to Mr. Harrison and he indicated that he wish to contribute to the development of Antigua and Barbuda, he asked us to come up with a concept of what we think the support should look like. We came up with an initial concept to do some renovations at ABICE. Then he said we were being too modest…” Mathew told the ceremony.
The education minister said Harrison wanted whatever he did to remain as a legacy in Antigua and Barbuda.
The new facility; located at Tomlinsons is 35000 square feet and will accommodate 450 students.
Parliamentary Representative for the constituency Dean Jonas said this is yet another perfect demonstration of how a caring government provides for its people with the tools to fight the war against ignorance and poverty, especially at this time.
“This project will focus on the provision of accredited technical training, which will be provided not only for the youths of Potters and St George but for Antigua and Barbuda as a whole,” Jonas added.
Jonas, while embracing the project said he is confident that the investment will reap long-term benefits since it will provide a robust training curriculum for many persons even beyond the shores of Antigua and Barbuda.
Daniel Harrison represented the foundation at Monday’s historic groundbreaking ceremony, saying that he understands the impact of education on people.
“This school is going to do an excellent job of unlocking the potential of all students who will attend here for many years to come,” he said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gaston Browne says the very construction of this new facility is a next-level project, saying that the courses offered would be fully certified.
“Even the course that will be offered will be internationally certified. The government will extend scholarships for the faculty to upskill. We want to make sure that when the students leave here they will be able to compete anywhere in the world. We are talking about ensuring global competitiveness,” Browne said
The prime minister also said that on November 1st the government could announce a decision to further subsidize university education. “Education here in Antigua and Barbuda is practically free… it is only $5000 a year, the cheapest in the world and we are willing to go even further to make sure no one is left behind,” Browne added.
ABICE was developed from an amalgamation of three social programs in 2007 and is focused on Technical and Vocational Educational Programs, that would ensure students receive a second chance and employability as well as lifelong learning opportunities.
The Memorandum of Understanding for the expansion work was signed in May this year.
The Harrison Foundation works with hundreds of young people in the UK to provide the tuition and training they need to help them grow in confidence and secure a job. It also supports a growing number of charities and organizations that work to tackle low social mobility by working with young people and connecting them to employment.