Water for schools survey launched

Water for schools survey launched

Observer writer

Friday, August 23, 2019

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ROSE HALL, St James — With just a week remaining before the start of the new school term in September, the Ministry of Education says it is moving with alacrity to alleviate the current water shortage being faced by a number of schools islandwide.

The parishes of St Mary, Portland, St Elizabeth, Manchester, Clarendon, St Thomas, and Kingston and St Andrew have been experiencing drought conditions for some months.

In order to determine the severity of the problem and the number of schools that are in need of immediate attention, Karl Samuda minister without portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister who has had oversight of the education sector since the sacking of Ruel Reid in March said a survey has been launched.

Samuda said the aim is to have affected schools retrofitted with water tanks and pipes.

“I held discussions with the permanent secretary, Dr [Grace] McLean, yesterday and you can be assured that immediate plans are being put in place to conduct a thorough survey of affected schools with a view to having the installation of water tanks and the necessary piping started immediately. In addition, discussions will be held with the National Water Commission to secure regular supplies of water to serve all affected schools. That survey, I wish to have conducted within a month so that plans can be put in place to effect change immediately,” Samuda said.

“A survey will also be undertaken within each region to ensure that this important matter is dealt with expeditiously,” he added.

The move is a direct response to a call made by Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) President Owen Speid during his presidential address at the JTA's 55th Annual General Conference in St James on Monday for the Ministry of Education to devise a programme aimed at trucking water to affected schools.

“Schools in the Corporate Area will have the same problem that they had last year when we had to close schools half day some of the times because there was no water in the pipe,” Speid said.

“There is a call also from the independent schools that they need help in terms of the trucking of water into their institutions because it is too expensive to afford. When we buy water for $22,000 it cannot serve for a day. That's how serious it is. So we need the Ministry of Education to devise some strategy and an established programme to get water trucked into the schools that are affected in this way,” stated Speid.

He had also suggested that rainwater harvesting systems be put in place at schools.

“What about the novel idea that yours truly has put forward a few weeks ago? I was at a function when I said... it is important that we have some rainwater harvesting plants in schools right across the nation,” Speid said.

In 2015, a similar action of providing water tanks to schools affected by a shortage of the commodity was undertaken by the Ministry of Education.

At that time, the then education minister, Rev Ronald Thwaites, had promised the installation of 200 water tanks at affected schools while the National Water Commission had committed to the trucking of water to accessible schools.

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