Nine rural schools to be upgraded
SOME $160 million has been allocated to undertake expansion and rehabilitation works at nine schools in rural Jamaica, ahead of the 2014/15 academic year, which begins in September.
The schools are: Clarence Brimm, Dutch Hill, Ulster Spring and Raymoth Notice Basic in Trelawny; Austin Primary, Bethlehem All-Age, and Aberdeen Primary and Junior High in St Elizabeth; Glendevon Primary and Junior High in St James; and May Pen School of Special Education for Children with Intellectual Disabilities, in Clarendon.
Funding is being provided by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), under the Community Investment Project, with the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) as the implementing agency.
Minister of Education Rev Ronald Thwaites said the project is of great significance, as it highlights Government's commitment to rural development.
"This is consistent with State policy reflected in the Ministry of Education, that our rural institutions must get priority. We want to stop the migration. It is very important that you don't have to travel multiple kilometres to find a good school for your children," Thwaites said during last Friday's contract- signing ceremony at his Heroes Circle offices.
For her part, Managing Director of JSIF Scarlette Gillings said increased focus has also been placed on early childhood institutions. She informed that in the case of these schools, special effort has been made to introduce age-appropriate facilities and furniture for the students.
She also implored the contractors to make good use of the summer holiday period to ensure that the students are not disrupted when they return to school in September.
General Manager of Civil Works/Infrastructure at JSIF Andrew Neita disclosed that community members will be contributing close to $24 million in total in cash and kind to the overall project.
"JSIF's approach to development is a community-centred one. This increases their buy-in into the project and augurs well for the maintenance and sustainability of the new infrastructure," he said.
Principal of Aberdeen Primary and Junior High School Milbert Miller, who spoke on behalf of the institutions, expressed gratitude to all stakeholders for the "major investment."
Member of Parliament for South Trelawny Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert also expressed gratitude on behalf of her constituents, noting that the works will go a far way in improving the lives of the students.