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$29-m upgrade for two St Elizabeth schools

Monday, July 14, 2014    

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SUCH problems as chunks of ceiling falling during class and animals wandering on to the school premises should soon become things of the past at Austin Primary School in Myersville, St Elizabeth. Better conditions are also coming for Bethlehem All-Age and Infant School in the community of Malvern in the parish.

Both schools will be upgraded under the Community Investment Project (CIP), which is implemented by Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) and financed by the Caribbean Development Bank. JSIF signed the contracts, valued at roughly $29 million, last Thursday, and work is expected to be undertaken over a period of three months.

At Austin Primary, the project will cost $17 million and the scope of work will involve erecting perimeter fencing, partitioning classrooms, repairing the roof, and rehabilitating an abandoned building for use as a library. Approximately 131 students and staff will benefit from the project.

At Bethlehem All-Age and Infant, approximately $12 million will be spent on the construction of a sanitation block for the infant department, fencing of the school property, rehabilitation of the roof and replacement of windows, and installation of folding partitions for classrooms for the more than 300 students enrolled at the institution.

The CIP targets improvement of infrastructure in education, health, and transportation in selected rural communities throughout Jamaica.

Speaking at the signing ceremony held at Austin Primary, general manager for finance at JSIF Orville Hill said Government was committed to "providing resources for our children to learn as our nation progresses towards the achievement of universal primary education".

Hill noted that the remedial projects were being pursued under a joint effort with the community. The community contribution is expected to include provision of storage for materials during construction; provision of security for materials; and provision of liaison officers for works. He emphasised the importance of the community's involvement in cash or kind, noting that this gives the residents a say in the project.

He added that JSIF will be providing maintenance training for some community members to ensure that the facilities put in place will be effectively used.

"As you receive this investment within your community, we encourage you as community leaders, to ensure the sustainability of the infrastructure, and also to work with our students as we develop them to be adults who will be better able to look at the growth in the economy of their community," he urged.

Education Officer for South East St Elizabeth in the Ministry of Education Region Five Cuttle Gayle encouraged the community members to ensure that the projects are well maintained.

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