Prime Minister Breaks Ground for Early-Childhood Institution

Photo: Yhomo Hutchinson Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness (centre), breaks ground for the Olympic Gardens Infant School yesterday (April 25). Others participating (from left) are Chairperson of the Early Childhood Commission (ECC), Trisha Williams-Singh; Chairman of the National Education Trust (NET), Nicholas Scott; Education, Youth and Information Minister, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid; the People’s Republic of China Ambassador to Jamaica, NIU Qingbao; State Minister in the Education, Youth and Information Ministry, Floyd Green, and Councillor-Caretaker of the Molynes Division, Glendon Salmon.

Story Highlights

  • Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, broke ground yesterday (April 25) for the construction of an early-childhood institution in his West Central St. Andrew constituency.
  • Under a grant-funded project by the Government of China worth J$803 million (CNY43.12 million), two schools are to be constructed – the Olympic Gardens Infant School in St. Andrew and the Morant Estate Infant School in St. Thomas.
  • The Prime Minister noted that the community will be a part of the project in a “significant way and that they will work side-by-side” with the Chinese.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, broke ground yesterday (April 25) for the construction of an early-childhood institution in his West Central St. Andrew constituency.

Under a grant-funded project by the Government of China worth J$803 million (CNY43.12 million), two schools are to be constructed – the Olympic Gardens Infant School in St. Andrew and the Morant Estate Infant School in St. Thomas.

Mr. Holness urged the community to ensure that the project finishes on time and that Chinese labourers are protected.

“I want the community to protect what is going on here and to make sure that the project can finish on time,” he said.

The Prime Minister noted that the community will be a part of the project in a “significant way and that they will work side by side” with the Chinese.

Mr. Holness informed that more projects by the Chinese and other countries will be undertaken in short order.

Meanwhile, in his remarks, Education, Youth and Information Minister, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, said the Ministry will be working with the Ecumenical Group to have infant schools made fully public.

“We want to get into this space very quickly, because many of the institutions with dwindling populations are seeking more support from the Government and we can’t do that until we put the governance structure in place,” he said.

Mr. Reid noted that the best way to achieve funding is to formalise all the infant schools into government institutions, taking responsibility of the funding of staff and the operational costs of running the schools.

The Minister expressed gratitude to the People’s Republic of China for the provision of the grant to construct the two schools.

For his part, the Chinese Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency NIU Qingbao, said that as Jamaica and the People’s Republic of China celebrate 45 years of diplomatic relations this year, the construction of the schools must be seen as a gift to Jamaica.

Mr. Qingbao noted that it is important to invest in children in order for them to have a better future.

Conceptualised during Mr. Holness’ tenure as Education Minister in 2011, the People’s Republic of China designed the project, following a feasibility study that was conducted.

The project’s construction has been awarded to Hebei Construction Group Limited and is expected to be completed within 17 months.

Both schools will serve 400 students and, upon completion, will include classrooms, playing rooms, outdoor playground and other important facilities.

The project is being overseen by the National Education Trust (NET).

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