Regional

Kellier commends plan for transforming military camp

There was blatant disregard for Cuban gift, Kellier

BY HORACE HINES Observer West reporter

Thursday, June 26, 2014    

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MONTPELIER, St James — SOUTH St James member of Parliament Derrick Kellier has commended the move to transform a military camp facility sited in this rural community into a second campus for Anchovy High School, describing it as a redemption for the blatant contempt with which the Cuban gift has been treated for more than three decades.

Kellier, who is also the minister of labour and social security, argued that it was grossly disrespectful to have converted the facility into a military camp, instead of using it for its intended purpose as an agricultural school, when it was constructed by the Cuban government as a present to Jamaica in the 1970s.

The Montpelier facility was used as a military base between 1981 and 1984.

Later, the facility accommodated Haitian refugees before they were sent back to their homeland. It also facilitated the training of prison wardens by the Correctional Services in Jamaica, a department under the Ministry of Security.

"This is a gift from the Cuban Government that we have managed somehow to disrespect... what we have done for the past 34 years is that we have disrespected the gift," Kellier lamented, as he addressed the gathering at last Friday's ground-breaking ceremony to transform the facility into a second campus for Anchovy High School, estimated to cost $120 million.

"This project today (Friday) to rehabilitate a building that was started about 1978, completed in 1980, but was never put to the purpose for which it was constructed because of the propaganda and the sharp divide that existed in the country at the time."

Kellier was ostensibly making reference to the marked difference in political ideology which existed between the two major political parties, the right-wing Jamaica Labour Party and the socialist- leaning People's National Party.

In the meantime, the South St James MP expressed gratitude to the ministry of education for the multi-million- dollar project which will result in the facility being used for its original purpose.

"Indeed, it is to your credit, minister (of education), that you and the ministry have found it possible to correct that wrong that was done in 1980 to turn this into a military camp instead of a training institution," Kellier stated.

He added: "But I need not look back beyond that because it would evoke memories that we need to forget, but we could not pass and not mark the occasion by saying these things."

The Montpelier facility is among a number of educational institutions donated to Jamaica by the communist Cuban Government. The others are: Jose Marti High School in St Catherine; Garvey Maceo High School in Clarendon; and the G C Foster College of Physical Education in Spanish Town, St Catherine.

Meanwhile, Minister of Education Rev Ronald Thwaites also expressed regret that the Montpelier facility was not used for its intended purpose.

"It is a shame that a fine educational institution like this could have been used for any other purpose. And we are not here to spread blame this morning (Friday), but we are here to proclaim resurrection. We are here this morning to vindicate the need for more and more and better school places throughout Jamaica," said the minister of education.

The upgrading work at the Montpelier facility is scheduled to be completed in time to accommodate the first set of students by late September to early October this year.

In the meantime, Principal of Anchovy High School Lambert Robinson noted that the new campus will enable students to participate in more extra-curricular activities.

The student population at the school now stands at 2,200.

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