Regional

'Help us!'

Coote Savannah ECI renews calls for assistance to build school

BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at-Large, Western Bureau cummingsm@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, January 02, 2014    

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BAULK, Westmoreland — FOR more than a year, numerous calls for assistance to construct a building to house the Coote Savannah Early Childhood Institution in the deep rural community of Baulk, Westmoreland, have fallen on deaf ears.

But school principal Jemeletha Allen is hopeful that " some Good Samaritan" will come forward in the New Year to aid the construction of the facility, following the alleged fire- bombing of the building that housed the more than four decades-old school, 16 months ago.

"We are really hoping that we will get some help this year to build back the school. We have had several promises, but none has materialised," Allen told the Jamaica Observer West yesterday.

Since the fire that gutted the building on August 29, 2012, a few days before the start of the new school year, operations at the institution which has roughly 50 students and a teaching staff of three, have been relocated to the nearby Nurses' Quarters at the Baulk Health Centre.

But, as Allen pointed out, the present location is posing several challenges for both teachers and students.

"We are badly inconvenienced. We need more space; we don't have any electricity, and we don't even know when the Health Department which owns the building will tell us to leave," she argued.

She recalled that after the fire at the school, which destroyed furniture, equipment and valuable school records, Member of Parliament for the area Dr Wykeham Mc Neill and representatives of the Food for the Poor visited the school and promised to assist.

"They came, took pictures of the buildings and promised to help, but we have not heard anything further," she charged.

She noted, however, that the MP, was instrumental in getting the school relocated to the Nurses' Quarters.

Meanwhile, the school got a well- needed boost last month when Nurse Recisa Fearon, a Jamaican native living in New Jersey, presented the students with school supplies.

"It was really a surprise for them," said Fearon, who has been donating school supplies to a number of educational institutions across the island, particularly in deep rural communities, for several years.

She told the Observer West that she had planned to make presentations to the Baulk Early Childhood Institution and the Friendship Primary School, both in Westmoreland, but when she heard about the fire that gutted the building that housed the Coote Savannah Early Childhood Institution, she decided to include the students there.

"A friend of mine told me about the fire and so I was really moved to help them last month," said Fearon, who also promised to provide further assistance to the school.

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