Career & Education

St Elizabeth school uses bus for classroom

Marie Cole Memorial Primary in need of expansion

Sunday, August 27, 2017

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Marie Cole Memorial Primary School, in Santa Cruz, St Elizabeth, established in 1968, has outgrown its capacity and is in urgent need of new and refurbished classrooms. The school was originally built to accommodate 170 students; however, the student population has now grown to 386.

“Our most pressing need, at this time, is for additional classroom space to alleviate the overcrowding conditions which we are experiencing from grades one to six,” said Delmas Smith, principal.

He pointed out that the school, sited on three acres of land, has the physical space to accommodate expansion and said he would appreciate the assistance of all Jamaicans

“The expansion will benefit students, as they need additional space so that they can learn in a comfortable environment and for the teachers to perform at their best, in providing quality learning experiences,” he said.

The main building of the school houses eight classrooms, from grades two to five. Grade six, which is subdivided into three classes, occupies a building that was originally constructed as a resource room, and a dilapidated bus was refurbished to accommodate a classroom.

“Families in the immediate community would benefit, as they currently send their children to schools outside of the community, while there is a local school,” he explained.

Andrice Campbell, head girl of the school, underscored the need for the repairs at her school. “Expansion of the classrooms would create additional space to implement reading and math corners, and provide a better context in which we can learn.”

Principal Smith said that, despite the space limitations, the students have performed well in the Grade Six Achievement Test with the overall placement this year at 76 per cent. Last year, placement was at 81 per cent. However, he believes that they would perform much better in an improved learning environment.

“The overcrowded condition is not good for the students, especially students in the lower grades. The condition under which they are currently learning is not suitable and when they get to grade six, it is difficult for them to adjust,” he pointed out.

Latoya Harris, director, donor & partnership management at the National Education Trust, said that Marie Cole Memorial Primary is one of 14 schools identified across the country for which funding is being sought through the Pledge2Build Project, a crowdfunding campaign established to upgrade infant and primary schools. An estimated $18 million is required to construct two classrooms and to carry out other critical works.

The Pledge2Build Project was launched in August 2016 by the Jamaica Diaspora Education Task Force to raise US$2 million to support education in Jamaica. The Government of Jamaica declared the Pledge2Build Campaign as a Jamaica 55 Legacy Project to mark the 55th anniversary of the country's Independence.

Leon Mitchell, chief marketing and sales officer Jamaica National Group, said the group's ISupportJamaica website is fully behind the school's refurbishing project.

“We believe that this campaign is a worthy initiative, and we are therefore urging Jamaicans locally and in the Diaspora to come on board,” he appealed.

Donors can visit the ISupport website at: www.isupportjamaica.com and look for the Fund Project button to donate to the project.

The school is located at the base of the Santa Cruz Mountain, approximately three miles south of the town of Santa Cruz in the farming community of Burnt Ground. It was donated to the Jamaican Government by the Cole family, in memory of their mother Maria Cole, a former educator. The original building was constructed by the Canadian Government.

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