JAMAICA continues to benefit from the many groups which travelled home to stage homecoming events across the island to mark the 50th anniversary of Independence.
One such entity in line for benefit is the Mount Regale Primary School in St Mary which was closed in controversial circumstances eight years ago.
A group of overseas-based past students of the school have joined local counterparts and community leaders, including South East St Mary Member of Parliament Dr Winston Green, to get the school reopened and ease the difficulties being experienced by students who have to seek education in other parts of the parish.
After discussions with the Ministry of Education's Dr Grace Munroe, the group is to submit a detailed plan for the reopening. As a first move, the past students have committed to raising the necessary funds to repair and refurbish the building which has fallen into disrepair.
The school was closed after parents withdrew their children in protest over poor academic results. However, "harsh economic realities as a result of the cost and distance of travel to schools in Richmond Road, Zion Hill and Highgate are posing a serious challenge to parents and students alike," said Dave Evans, a spokesman for the local citizens' association.
Evans said that residents, including some from the neighbouring districts of Upton, Clarke Castle, Seaton and Comfort Valley "would welcome the reopening of the school".
While some residents like Jean Cobourne acknowledged that reopening the school was fraught with challenges, such as finding sufficient students to justify its reopening. However there was general agreement that Mount Regale Primary School was once a proud institution and should not be allowed to rot and deteriorate any further.
The decision to move for the reopening of the school came as scores of past students now living in the United States, Canada and locally met on the school grounds for their first ever reunion and homecoming exercise.
Addressing the event, New York-based Adjunct Professor Raymond Rhoden, a past student himself, commended the many professionals including doctors, nurses, teachers, law enforcement officers, a foreign service officer, and a journalist "who received their early beginnings here", for maintaining an interest in their Jamaican roots.
Another past student, Marcus Henry, in lamenting the closure of the school, noted that many of those who passed through its doors did not get the opportunity to attend any other learning institution, but still managed to contribute to the nation's development.