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Who decides which SIF project gets go-ahead?

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08.MAY.09

Editor: In the previous edition of the Searchlight Newspaper (30-4-2009), there were two articles that mentioned the Social Investment Fund (SIF) and its involvement with funding projects relating to schools. Now before I go on, let me say that the SIF has contributed to a great many things here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and I believe any assistance to help create a better learning environment for our schools should leave us all thankful.{{more}} The appreciation ends there.

I would like to raise the question to SIF for all to read – just who makes the decisions to proceed on project proposals? Why might we read about projects that are accepted that seem to be very similar to other projects that were denied? I would like to highlight the particular case of the Fitz Hughes Primary School’s library request. I’ve come to learn that they requested funding assistance from SIF back in July. Sources tell me that the writers of the proposal were informed to keep their proposal budget under EC $50,000 or it would not be accepted. The library proposal was constrained to EC $40,000. The headmaster, staff, and a Peace Corps worker there, had put together this proposal and mobilized community support. The small school does not have a functional library at all, much less, a single decent computer.

One might think a project like this would have been easily approved. However, this was not the case, as the writers of the proposal were kept in the dark for many months, as to the status of the project proposal. It was not till early this year that SIF indicated they would not be funding any small-sized projects such as this. They were also told that the school didn’t need a library, since there was a learning resource centre nearby. They informed the writers to seek funding elsewhere—perhaps BNTF, who has funds for small projects. After nearly 9 months, SIF nearly killed the project, which sources tell me is struggling and still trying to move forward. Concerns in the Fitz Hughes area revolve around the Peace Corps worker, who, striving to compile resources, has already been ordering book donations from overseas, but fears she will not be in St. Vincent to see the library completed by the time her service ends, due to funding delays.

Lowmans Windward Anglican Primary School – EC$100,000 for a library and IT centre. West St. George Secondary School – EC$43,000 to furnish a resource centre. God bless both schools and their efforts to help our children. Mr. Bentley Brown, have you no remorse? Denying the Fitz Hughes Primary School their EC$40,000 library to stem the flow of illiteracy. Shame on you. Or are your hands tied, dancing to the strings of political will? Which is it?

Watchdog

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