Solar power system opens new doors for St. Cuthbert students

After two years, students of the St. Cuthbert’s Mission Secondary School will finally be able to use their computer lab following the recent installation of a 6.2kW solar power system at the school.

The new system, which cost $8.7M, was installed by the Hinterland Electrification Company Inc. (HECI) and comprises 24 solar panels, according to a Ministry of Public Infrastructure press release that was issued yesterday.

Orlando Shuman, Headmaster of the St. Cuthbert’s Mission Secondary School (Ministry of Public Infrastructure photo)

The ministry said the system was installed just before the school closed for the Christmas holidays and the upcoming school term will see the 126 enrolled students fully reaping the benefits, such as utilising the previously unused computer lab.

Orlando Shuman, the current Headmaster of the school, explained that although the community receives electricity, it is typically supplied from 6pm to 10pm daily, outside of school hours.

As a result, he said that the new system would enable the school to tap into facilities that were previously inaccessible. In particular, Shuman said he 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 or the internet.

The 24 solar panels installed on the roof of the St. Cuthbert’s Mission Secondary School (Ministry of Public Infrastructure photo)

With the new system, he 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.

“From an administrative standpoint, this helps me to be more efficient,” he added, with a gesture towards his laptop. “Generally, there has been a big difference. People are now looking at the school as going somewhere,” he further said, before noting that the school will finally be able to have an electronic filing system and the ability to better manage its student records.

Shuman also noted that teachers now have improved morale. “Some have even suggested we get a percolator,” he was quoted as saying. “It’s made our environment comfortable and more enthusiastic.”

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.”

The computer lab, which houses 18 computers, will soon be in use due to the installation of the solar power system at the St. Cuthbert’s Mission Secondary School (Ministry of Public Infrastructure photo)

Meanwhile, the release said the HECI also extended the community’s electricity network to better service residents. It explained that while some residents would have had power systems already installed, the electricity provided was often of low voltages. The HECI installed additional transformers and, overall, upgraded the network. This upgrade, the release said, has seen six new households being added to the network. Additionally, it added that 1,200 homes in the community already on the network will benefit from better electricity.

According to the release, the Indigenous community was identified by the HECI due to its rapid growth in recent years and the need for an improved supply of electricity.

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