Education sector benefiting from major JSIF programme interventionsTuesday, February 09, 2021
THE education sector has been the biggest beneficiary of interventions implemented under the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) Programme.
Now in its ninth cycle, the programme (BNTF IX) is financed by the Caribbean Development Bank.
It covers five target areas — education and human resource development, access and drainage, water and sanitation systems, health, and livelihood enhancement.
Speaking at a recent Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Think Tank held at the agency's headquarters in Kingston, JSIF Managing Director Omar Sweeney said the investment in education accounts for the majority of the resources deployed through the BNTF.
“Under the portfolio of education, for instance, where more than 50 per cent of the projects have gone, about 58 per cent of the total resources that we received, we've done, more than anything else, classroom spaces,” Sweeney said.
He explained that the work involved expanding a number of schools to remove the shift system as well as making sure classrooms have proper ventilation.
“You're talking about providing appropriate classroom ratios — that is student-to-teacher ratios — in terms of the number of students, especially at the early childhood and primary school level, making sure that these ratios are considered best practice,” Sweeney said.
He further pointed out that under BNTF IX more than 48 classrooms were constructed, which “gives you an idea, in just one cycle, the type of investments that we're making in terms of the physical infrastructure”.
Meanwhile, BNTF Project Manager Dainty Ann Barrett Smith said that in addition to investments in the physical infrastructure, “we also work with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information to find out what are the gaps... [within the sector] that they would want us to support”.
“We have carved out several interventions. Quality enhancements in literacy and numeracy, [which] we did…under the BNTF Seven cycle, and under the BNTF IX cycle we have supported the move of the ministry in enhancing the quality of education for the Special Education Unit,” she added.
Barrett Smith also said teachers received training in water, sanitation and hygiene. This investment, she said, was bolstered in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“Having trained the teachers in the schools, we've also procured and distributed items to the schools in the form of foot-operated sanitising stations, hand washing stations, and a few of them will be getting water tanks and pumps,” she pointed out.
Additionally, she said the schools will be getting chemicals, hand sanitisers, thermometers, among other items “just to bolster their capacity to operate when we return to face-to-face school full-time”.
Barrett said the BNTF tries to anchor its position in a holistic model, supporting the teachers and the school “in bringing up that quality of education”.
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