For the first time since the St. Cuthbert’s Mission Secondary School was established, its students will be able to make full use of electricity, thanks to the installation of a 6.2kW solar system by the Hinterland Electrification Company Inc. (HECI).
The 24 solar panels were installed just before the school closed in December 2016 for the Christmas holidays and the upcoming school term will see the 126 enrolled students fully reaping the benefits of the new system. The new system came at a cost of $8.7M.
Orlando Shuman, the current Headmaster of St. Cuthbert’s Mission Secondary, shared his excitement over the potential the new system held. In his office at the school – his laptop in front of him and a printer to his right – he explained that the school is now able to tap into facilities that were previously inaccessible. While electricity is present in the community, it typically becomes available from 6:00PM to 10:00PM daily, outside of school hours.
“From an administrative standpoint, this [electricity] helps me to be more efficient,” Shuman said, with a gesture towards his laptop. He continued, “Generally, there has been a big difference. People are now looking at the school as going somewhere.”
He further said that, with electricity, the school will finally be able to have an electronic filing system and the ability to better manage its student records. He said too that teachers now have improved morale.
“Some have even suggested we get a percolator,” Shuman said with a laugh. “It’s made our environment comfortable and more enthusiastic.”
Shuman also foresees big benefits for the upcoming Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) students. He indicated that, previously, the CSEC students had encountered difficulties in completing their School Based Assessments (SBAs), since most had no access to computers and internet.
Now, an enthused Shuman said, the students will finally be able to make use of the school’s computer lab, which housed 18 unused computer systems since their acquisition more than two years ago. He added that, with the use of computers, the classes at the school would become much more interactive.
Thanking the HECI for its intervention, Shuman said, “It’s amazing to see something like this come to fruition so quickly. I feel it’s a step in the right direction.”
Meanwhile, HECI also extended the community’s electricity network to better service its residents. While some residents would have had power systems already installed, the electricity provided was often of low voltages. Therefore, HECI installed additional transformers and, overall, upgraded the network.
This upgrade has seen six new households being added to the network. Additionally, the 1,200 homes in the community already on the network will benefit from better electricity.
The Indigenous community was identified by HECI due to its rapid growth in recent years and the need for an improved supply of electricity.