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Five high schools to be built in five years, says Reid

Saturday, March 11, 2017


Education, Youth and Information Minister Senator Ruel Reid says five new high schools are to be built across the island to ease overcrowding.

The areas identified are Old Harbour in St Catherine; Christiana, Manchester; and in St Ann and St James.

“We have about 85 primary schools and about 166 high schools. Now that we have extended opportunities for everybody to be in high school, we do not have enough, so we need to build some more. Even if five is not adequate, it will take pressure off the high schools,” he said.

Reid was speaking to reporters following the official handover of 10 new classrooms and other facilities at the Old Harbour Primary School in St Catherine on March 8. The project was undertaken by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) at a cost of $83.1 million.

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Senator Reid said he is working to ensure that the new high schools can be delivered over a five-year period.

He indicated that it could cost $1 billion to erect a school and outfit it with the necessary equipment.

Minister with responsibility for works in the Office of the Prime Minister, Everald Warmington, who is also Member of Parliament for St Catherine South Western, informed that land has been set aside in Colbeck for the construction of a primary and high school.

He said that in order to facilitate the project, instructions have been given to the National Works Agency for the replacement of a bridge that leads to the site that was destroyed by heavy rains.

The Old Harbour High School project was undertaken through $79.1 million in funding from the Caribbean Development Bank and implemented under JSIF’s Basic Needs Trust Fund Programme seven. The community contributed the additional $4 million.

Managing director of JSIF Omar Sweeney informed that more than 40 per cent of the agency’s budget has gone to the construction and rehabilitation of schools.

“The Old Harbour Primary School stood out as an investment that was so necessary that the Caribbean Development Bank allocated US$600,000. We have used every single dollar here,” he said.

Acting principal of Old Harbour Primary, George Goode, in his remarks, said the school community is pleased about the project.

“I want everyone to know that we are a grateful school family. Our hearts are filled with nothing else but gratitude,” he said.

In addition to the new classrooms, which opened in September last year, desks and chairs for students and teachers were provided along with safety equipment.

The classrooms received new ceilings and whiteboards, and walls were painted.

The project also included rehabilitation of the library and administration area, installation of new cupboards and countertops in the kitchen, tiling of the sanitation blocks and installation of new fixtures, and electrical upgrades.

The new classrooms have allowed the school to be removed from the shift system for the first time in 40 years.

Funding has been secured to remove 34 remaining schools operating on shifts, through the Capital ‘A’ budget.

— JIS

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