Minister Melvin Hulse joins school principal in cutting the ribbon; The new pre-school accommodates 40 students.

More than 40 kindergarten students of Placencia in the Stann Creek District now have a place to begin their education, The new Placencia Anglican Pre-School was officially inaugurated on Wednesday morning, November 23.

The Social Investment Fund (SIF) implemented the project, and the Caribbean Development Bank financed it through its Basic Needs Trust Fund Program at a total cost of $110,000.

The program promotes poverty reduction through socio-economic initiatives and community empowerment, and is jointly financed by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and nine beneficiary governments, including Belize.

A one-classroom ferro-concrete building was constructed with a metal roof, reinforced concrete floor, reinforced masonry block walls, aluminium louvred windows, solid timber panel doors with a total floor area of 840 sq. ft. The building also has two bathrooms and a kitchenette.

Placencia, located about 22 miles off the Southern Highway from an intersection approximately 25 miles south of Dangriga, has a population of approximately 1,500 villagers who earn their living through fishing, diving, tour guiding, sport fishing and boat charters. The village also has a large number of restaurants and resorts.

The pre-school opened its doors in 2009 with some 25 children between the ages of 3 and 5 in the community centre, which lacked adequate space. The center was also used for village meetings and other events, and, on a monthly basis, it was also used as an animal clinic. Rain water leaked in through the ceiling, and it had no child-friendly outdoor play area.

The new building will enhance the children's educational environment and prepare them for primary school.

Studies show that early childhood education is key to improved performance in subsequent schooling.

Minister of Transportation and NEMO Hon. Melvin Hulse, who is also the area representative for Stann Creek West, was the keynote speaker at the inauguration. Other speakers included the Anglican Bishop of Belize, representatives of the Education Ministry, SIF and the school's management.

The Reporter