New level of learning at St. Ninian’s Primary School, Guyana

It’s a humid June afternoon in Region One, Guyana and it’s lunch time for students at St. Ninian’s Primary School. Atop a hill of clayey soil, boys and girls clad in blue uniforms make play against the backdrop of a freshly painted building.


Guyanese children in school uniform
Students at St. Ninian’s Primary School play during lunch time.


It’s a new block of classrooms and bathrooms, funded through the Caribbean Development Bank’s (CDB) Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF), which has just been handed over to the school’s administration.

Parents and relatives gathered for the occasion, undeterred by heavy grey clouds, which threatened rain. They know that the newly extended school brings with it a better chance at secondary education for their children and a way out of poverty.

Anita Bennett, whose children received their primary education at St. Ninian’s, is among the Red Hill residents who attended the handover event.


Guyanese woman holding babt
Anita Bennett, whose children attended St. Ninian’s Primary School.


“After Grade Six, when the children finished their exams, they had to go out to Mabaruma Secondary, about 60 miles from here. It could take five, six hours from here with children. I think it [the new building] is good for the rest of the children because education is very important. This is a great help to this village. Here would be closer to home,” she says.

When the new school term opens in September 2016, students will no longer have to travel far away from their homes to attend secondary school. This will ease the weight of the financial burden which many parents in the community have had to bear when their children graduate from sixth grade.

Renswick Valenzuela has two children enrolled at St. Ninian’s– an 8-year-old daughter who wants to be a nurse and an 11-year-old son, who has dreams of becoming a policeman. If they are to realise these career goals, secondary school won’t be optional.


Guyanese man wearing t-shirt
Renswick Valenzuela says money is difficult to come by in the Red Hill community.


“Finance is very difficult in our community,” says Renswick. “Having the new building is very good. We have been seeking one for a very long time. We thank God it has been completed.”

Mayleen Anthony, Teacher in Charge at St. Ninian’s, has worked at the school for 15 years. She notes that, over time, the school has struggled to keep pace with the growing demand for education in Red Hill, despite being rebuilt in 2005.

Guyanese teacher in charge surrounded by students

Mayleen Anthony, Teacher in Charge at St. Ninian’s Primary School.


“We had 94 children but it could only accommodate 60, so we clustered,” she says of the very first building that housed the school. “They built this bigger building here to accommodate 100 children and now we are overcrowded again. Especially when it is exam and assessment time, here is too clustered and the noise distracts the children,” Mayleen says.

 “It [the new building] would be more spacious and more comfortable also. The children will learn better. There will be more space for teaching aids, along with the teachers,” says Mayleen, looking out at the new block from her small office.

The extension includes three new classrooms; a sanitary block with toilets for males and females, and shower stalls; a water storage facility with a photovoltaic pumping system; and furniture.


school in Guyana
Part of the new building at St. Ninian’s Primary School.


With the new block, when the new school year opens, children will not only have better access to a quality education. They will also benefit from improved health and safety, which includes training in health and hygiene practices. This training, when applied, could also have a positive impact on the wider community.

The St. Ninian’s Primary School extension was handed over on June 14, 2016. BNTF provided USD147,000 in funding for the subproject, and the Government of Guyana, USD7,700.

The funding for St. Ninian’s is provided under the seventh cycle of the BNTF programme. USD2 million has been allocated to St. Ninian’s and seven other schools to build and upgrade 44 classrooms for 2,248 beneficiaries.   

To learn more about BNTF, visit www.caribank.org/bntf.