BY PETRE WILLIAMS-RAYNOR Career & Education editor email@example.com
JAMAICA College (JC) is to make boarding offerings to its students — just as soon as the institution secures the funding to build the required facilities and employ staff to make a success of the venture.
Principal Ruel Reid said the offer of boarding forms a part of the development plan for the all-boys school, which is located at 189 Old Hope Road in Kingston.
That plan, he said, has so far seen a number of developments taking place, including a spanking new auditorium; the upgrade of their gym, the renovation of their sixth-form block, and, more recently, the construction of 12 studio apartments to house members of their teaching staff.
The auditorium cost J$100 million while the gym is being upgraded to the tune of US$200,000. The sixth-form block was upgraded at a cost of US$100,000 and the apartments were constructed at a cost of J$45 million — all thanks to the generosity of the school's old boys.
"Even as we speak, the plan is to further expand our ICT (information communication technology) infrastructure in the school, which is going to cost $31 million. There are other things we have competing with this, so we have to prioritise. But very often what we find is that persons will take the opportunity to fund them," Reid said.
"We know there are a couple of old boys interested in boarding and we are going to indicate to them that whenever they are ready, we are ready to receive," he told Career & Education.
According to the JC principal, the plan is to offer boarding options to some 50 boys and he has no doubt that they can make it work.
"You have to put systems and structures in place. It is not more difficult than running a camp. It is just having rules and regulations in place, which is what schools are about. So once you have the systems in place and the personnel to back it up, it runs like clockwork," said Reid, who is himself the product of one of Jamaica's few boarding schools — Munro College.
"What we are good at, at JC, is putting good management in place so that it [boarding] is not anything that we can't deal with," he added.
At the same time, the principal said an increase in the number of boarding schools — among which institutions like St Hilda's and Westwood High are counted — is something he highly recommends.
"A lot of us who have benefited [from attending boarding schools] have been more disciplined, more co-operative and have learnt to live and work with people. So for socialisation it is fantastic. And when you look at Jamaica, it seems that if we have more boarding institutions, it would help to alleviate some of the social ills we have in the society," Reid said.
"I have done so [recommended boarding to Government] many times before, and I do so now. It is just that we have a broke Government so we probably need the Chinese to build some [boarding schools] for us," added the educator, who served as advisor to former Minister of Education Andrew Holness.