Are school construction costs rising too quickly?

Dear Editor,
The Ministry of Education is doing an excellent job in moving the sector forward, and we should all provide assistance in preventing them from being taken advantage of by others.
The announced price for the rebuilding of Christ Church Secondary School is surprising. Compared to St. Roses High School, Christ Church Secondary School has been almost twice as expensive. More surprising has been the relative number of students, which, by the way, is not twice as many.
Factoring in inflation and the improvement of added fire prevention, the proposed cost of the school relative to St. Roses High School and the other planned schools does bring into question whether the necessary cost controls are in place to support the planned improvement in the education sector. The perception worsens when you consider that St. Roses is a top 5 school and Christ Church sits in the top 15.
I am all for equal opportunity, but not for the neglect of our best students. Usually, the best students get access to the best facilities, because they have the reputation of making the most of the opportunity. If the strategy in the education sector is to provide a level playing field for all students, then we must ensure that the quality of the investment in the facilities and the capabilities of the schools are at the same high standards.
The exception is where there is a focus on a particular academic specialisation. For example, a school dedicated to the development of the specialisation of industrial arts should be expected to have additional state-of-the-art capabilities that may not be found at a school with a different academic focus.
Given that a significant portion of the National Budget has been dedicated to education, it would not hurt to have the Audit Office of Guyana (AOG) continually provide assistance on these large capital expenditures. The funds that are currently available for investment in our children were not easy to obtain, and we have waited many decades to have this opportunity to improve the country. Let us all ensure that the opportunity is not wasted.
Guyana is known for its academic achievements, and many Guyanese grace the halls of top learning institutions around the world. Our education system should reflect our capabilities, and the management of the sector should continue to make the most of the little we have. The saying “waste not, want not” is what we were all taught growing up. Let us always keep this in mind during our endeavours to improve the Nation.

Jamil Changlee