PM and education minister to lead national Labour Day projects

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

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PRIME Minister Andrew Holness, and Education, Youth and Information Minister Senator Ruel Reid will lead groups of volunteers in carrying out refurbishing works at the national Labour Day projects on May 23 at the Cumberland Health Centre in St Catherine, and the St Ann's Bay Infant School in St Ann.

Gender, Culture, Entertainment and Sport Minister Olivia Grange said Holness is slated to visit Cumberland Health Centre, while Senator Reid will journey to the St Ann's Bay Infant School.

She told JIS News that the works to be carried out on those facilities and others across the island are in keeping with this year's focus on health centres and schools under the theme 'Ramp it Up - Fix it Up'.

Grange says the health centres will benefit from general beautification and upgrading to improve conditions for medical staff and clients, while schools will be outfitted with ramps and other features to make them more accessible and user-friendly for physically challenged persons.

Grange said work at the Cumberland Health Centre on Labour Day will include refurbishing of a building to create additional space to accommodate patients.

“Pregnant women, for example, had great difficulty on certain days when they went there because the facility just could not accommodate them. So there will shortly be two buildings that will accommodate patients, and after Labour Day, I know that those who use the facilities will appreciate the fact that we were able to fix it up,” she pointed out.

The scope of works for health centres, which will include installation of air-conditioning units, repair of windows and roofs, and repair or replacing of furniture over time, will augment the Health Ministry's 'Adopt-a-Clinic' initiative, under which 100 public health centres have been shortlisted for support through partnerships with private-sector stakeholders.

At least two are being targeted in each parish, which will be identified in collaboration with the municipal corporations.

Meanwhile, Senator Reid said the decision to focus on schools stems from a motion brought to the Upper House by Opposition Senator, Dr Floyd Morris, in March, calling on the Government to use this year's Labour Day to continue measures to improve access to educational institutions for the physically challenged.

The motion proposed the installation of ramps in at least two schools in each of the 63 constituencies on the day, and for the National Education Trust (NET), an agency of the Education Ministry, to partner with other stakeholders in coordinating the project.

Data from NET indicated that of Jamaica's 971 public infant, primary and high schools, and over 2,000 early-childhood institutions, only 138 primary and high schools are fitted with ramps.

In this regard, the Ramps for Schools project will run for one year after Labour Day, to enable the completion of work on the additional 126 schools.

The education ministry has earmarked $30 million of its 2018/19 capital budget allocation to cover at least 25 of the 126 institutions, according to Senator Reid.

“All students deserve the opportunity to receive a holistic and quality education (to enable them) to uplift themselves, their families and their communities,” he said.

Labour Day culminates Workers' Week activities from May 14 to 23 under the theme 'Preserving our Legacy: Unfolding Progress'.

Activities for Labour Day and Workers' Week 2018 coincide with several significant events in Jamaica's storied history.

This year, observances commemorate the 80th anniversaries of the 1938 worker protests, and establishment of the Labour Department, which significantly reshaped the country's landscape regarding conditions of employment.

Additionally, May 23 will mark 186 years since National Hero Samuel Sharpe was hanged for his role in the 1831/32 Christmas rebellion.

The revolt started at Kensington Estate in St James and spurred slave uprisings across the island, and is believed to have contributed to the abolition of slavery and emancipation of slaves between 1834 and 1838.

Prime Minister Holness, in his address at the launch, urged the nation to advance the spirit of volunteerism and service on Labour Day.

“Allow it to become a part of everything you do and a fixture in your daily lives. Make every day meaningful and productive (by) doing more for your families, your community and your country,” he said.

Labour and Social Security Minister Shahine Robinson who has responsibility for the disabled community, appealed for all well-thinking Jamaicans to “come out and really make a difference” through the various projects that will be undertaken.

Local Government and Community Development Minister Desmond McKenzie, whose message was read at the launch by Permanent Secretary Marsha Henry-Martin, said Labour Day affords civic-minded persons the opportunity to “assess our individual and collective value” in order to “improve on what we are doing right, correct what we are doing wrong and work together to achieve a common objective”.

The Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport is coordinating Labour Day activities in collaboration with the Office of the Prime Minister, and the ministries of labour and social security; education, youth and information; health; local government and community development; and the various municipal corporations islandwide.

Telecommunications entity, Digicel; and construction firm, China Harbour Engineering Company Limited, have partnered with the Government as the main sponsors.

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