CHASE Continues to Support Early Childhood Education


The Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund as part of its mandate to support Early Childhood Education has demonstrated its commitment by building and renovating several institutions over the years.
Since its inception in 2003, the CHASE Fund has approved 329 Early Childhood Education projects in the sum of $752 million.
Speaking with JIS News, Chief Executive Officer of the Fund, Billy Heaven says the focus on education must begin at the early childhood level.
“This is the level at which we really do not teach the kids Mathematics and English and all the other subject areas but we teach the kids how to learn. We provide the environment to stimulate them, to get them excited and for them to be ready to learn when they get to another level,” he explains.
Approximately 40 per cent of the funds disbursed by CHASE are allocated to sports development while the second highest allocation represents 25 per cent to Early Childhood Education. Some 20 per cent is earmarked each year for health- related projects while arts and culture receive 15 per cent.
He told JIS News that in the last financial year, the company disbursed grants totaling $180 million to the development of the early childhood sector. The monies were used to establish a school feeding programme, enabling hundreds of children could get a balanced and healthy meal at school.
Additionally, Mr. Heaven points out that much of the resources were also spent on training teachers. “We work through the HEART Trust/NTA to train teachers in basic schools up to Level Two and we are also now partnering with the teacher’s colleges in the provision of diploma courses for teachers in Early Childhood Education,” he notes.
So far more than 400 teachers at the Diploma level and some 1,500 at Level Two have received funding for training. Nevertheless, the most significant part of CHASE’s activities is in the building and equipping of basic schools and resource centres and this accounts for approximately 75 per cent of the finances allocated to the programme. This, he points out, is not based on a preference but on obvious needs.
“We were informed by several meetings and site visits when we just started CHASE and our decision to rebuild some of the schools, to expand and renovate some of the other schools and to equip them was informed by the needs that we see on the ground,” the CEO tells JIS News.
One institution that benefited from the CHASE Fund’s assistance is the Mount Ogle Basic School in Lawrence Tavern, which was destroyed by fire in 2004. “We saw their plight on television one night and we made a number of site visits. We determined their needs and we built a model school for just under $11 million,” he informs.
Principal of Mount Ogle, Ruby Wilson adds that the construction did more than just repair the damage as it gave the students and teachers a new and improved facility.
“We have six classrooms, a sick bay, a computer room, kitchen and also bathroom. We have a teacher’s bathroom and we have two sections for boys and girls,” the Principal notes.
A play area was also constructed. The school now has 160 students enrolled who been enjoying the new facilities since May of last year.
“We want to say thanks to CHASE. They have given us a good environment and good facilities and we are hoping that they would continue to do their best for other schools in other areas,” the Principal adds. For the 2007/2008 fiscal year the Fund expects to spend millions more on Early Childhood Education. It is projected that CHASE will disburse approximately $280 million on Early Childhood projects compared with $180 million in the last fiscal year. The CHASE Fund was incorporated on November 25, 2002 and began its operations in January 2003. It was registered under the Companies Act to receive, distribute, administer and manage the monetary contributions from lottery companies and use them to support development projects in the areas of culture, health, arts, sports and education.

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