The  Corner Stone Laying Ceremony for Eliza Simons Primary School New Block succeeded yesterday, Wednesday 17th May, despite some rainy resistance.

The inclement weather challenged the celebration of the corner stone laying ceremony for the new state-of-the-art two-story school building, a $2.5 million addition to the school.  However, a significant number of government officials and patrons from the community were present to witness what the Minister of Education referred to as “celebrating the laying of blocks for the second in our series of infrastructure of modern schooling in the Turks and Caicos Islands”.

The Minister of Education stated, “Today’s ceremony marks a turning point as we prepare to usher in an exciting new era for public education in the Turks and Caicos Islands.  This school will be more than just a building of bricks and mortar; this will be a place where

people learn, teach and grow.  This 21st Century learning facility will be built with a focus on using technology to engage students in their learning and to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed for the future”.

The ceremony included a prayer by School Chaplin, Dr. Linda Williams, who is a past Director and Permanent Secretary of Education. Remarks were also made by the Honourable Premier, Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson; H.E. Deputy Governor, Anya Williams; Minister of Infrastructure, the Honourable Goldray Ewing; Minister of Education, the Honourable Josephine Connolly and a Representative of Olympic Construction followed by each Government Official laying a brick in the corner of the school.

The newly constructed school will foster the education of future generations.  The greatest inheritance to give a child is a high-quality education. Therefore, the Turks and Caicos Islands Government will continue to developschool infrastructure, providing students with a modern and positive learning environment which is part of their commitment to ensure that students meet their full potential.


Today, May 17th the Turks and Caicos Along with the Region under the theme “Know your Numbers” commemorates World Hypertension Day. Hypertension or as we refer to it high blood pressure also known as the “Silent Killer” is the main risk factor for suffering and dying as a result of premature cardiovascular conditions. Hypertension is also the second leading cause of disability worldwide.

"The incidence of hypertension in all social strata has doubled over the past 5 years. Globally, it is estimated that only 57% of hypertensive people know that they have hypertension. Hypertension is not curable but it is treatable. Yet, only 40.6% of persons receive antihypertensive drugs and of this percentage only 13.2% achieve blood pressure control numbers. The Turks and Caicos is no different and we must do something about this very alarming disease condition" stated Mrs. Robinson Director of Health Promotion and Advocacy within the Ministry of Health, Agriculture and Human Services.

One may ask what is hypertension? hypertension means there is too much pressure in your blood vessels. This can damage your blood vessels and cause health problems.  Anyone can develop high blood pressure, but it becomes more common as you get older. Therefore, if there is a family history of hypertension, if you smoke, drink alcohol excessively, eat unhealthy diets, have diabetes or kidney disease, obese, have an inactive lifestyle, stressed often or have sleep apnea you should have your blood pressure checked regularly. The following tips will help you to prevent or control hypertension:

  • Be physically active for 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week. (moderate physical activity means you sweat a little and breathe a little harder)
  • Eat a healthy diet based on vegetables & fruit, low-fat milk products, whole grains & lean meats, fish, legumes (beans) and nuts.
  • Do not add salt/sodium to foods prepared at home or at the table.
  • Eat a lower salt/sodium diet. Most of the sodium in your diet comes from processed or packaged foods, and restaurant & take-out meals. (Wash canned foods & other salty foods before eating or cooking.)
  • Learn to read the sodium content on food labels. Choose packaged foods with 5% or less daily value for sodium.
  • If you are overweight, aim to reduce to a healthy weight or in other words a healthy BMI measurement of 20-25.
  • Manage your stress levels to improve your coping skills and your health.
  • Limit alcohol to 1-2 standard drinks per day or less.
  • Do not smoke and avoid places where others are smoking

For more information on hypertension contact the Health Promotion and Advocacy Unit on 338-2772.

DECR Capacity building for effective MPA Management

On Monday, May 15th, the Department of Environment & Coastal Resources (DECR) will be embarking on a week-long Atlantic and Gulf Reef Assessment Program (AGRRA) Coral Reef Monitoring Training course.

The course is to provide technical training to DECR Officers, as well as key volunteers and marine conservation partners, to strengthen coral reef monitoring, in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

“We should not under-estimate the value of the goods and services provided by the marine protected areas (MPAs).  Monitoring of the extensive coral reefs system is of paramount importance to healthy reefs which in turn attracts thousands of tourists to our shores annually,” said Hon. Ralph Higgs, Minister for Tourism, Environment, Heritage, Culture and Gaming.

“Having a good understanding of the state of our natural environment is very important for management so that we can respond to any changes or impacts and take necessary actions, if we need to. The AGRRA training will help build capacity within the DECR, so that monitoring programs can become a core activity of the Department. We are very grateful to all the partners collaborating on this project,” said Dr John Claydon, Director for the DECR.

The aim of the training is to provide technical training to participants, providing a framework for coordinated coral reef monitoring to strengthen the management of the Turks & Caicos Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

The five-day intensive course, made possible by funding from The "BEST 2.0 Programme",  part of the EU Biodiversity for Life (B4Life) flagship (a funding facility for small-scale and medium-scale field actions in EU Overseas Countries and Territories); will equip participants with appropriate AGRRA methods, the identification of key coral, benthic and fish organisms and their role in the structure and functioning of coral reefs, data collection consistency and accuracy training, site selection options and an overview of data entry analysis.

Minister Higgs commented, “We are grateful to have our officers engage in this vital training that will undoubtedly enhance their knowledge and increase awareness in coral reef monitoring, enabling us to deliver on our mandate to preserve and sustain the natural environment”

The Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA) Program ( is an international collaboration of scientists and mangers aimed at determining the regional condition of reefs in the Western Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. For 20 years, AGRRA has used an innovative regional approach to examine the condition of coral reefs and together with teams of over 100 in country partners and reef scientists, has assessed over 2,000 reef areas.

AGRRA is the first and only program that has developed an extensive open-access regional database on Caribbean coral reef condition. The data have provided valuable baseline data for scientists and government officials responsible for protecting marine coastal areas. AGRRA collaborates with partners to conduct capacity training workshops, field assessments, data analysis and prepare results for publication and public outreach, and is a co-founder of the Healthy Reefs Initiative (HRI), helping to produce Coral Reef Report Cards for a number of countries in the region.