PORT ANTONIO — The Retreat Primary and Junior High School, St. Mary, received a major boost with the handing over of a newly constructed five-classroom block by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) on Friday (April 29).
The block cost approximately $22 million and was completed in January. Funding was provided by the European Union (EU) Banana Support Programme (BSP), through its grant assistance facility. The direct beneficiaries are the school’s 980 registered students and 48 staff members.
Minister of State for Local Government, Hon Robert Montague, thanked the EU for the support it has provided for developmental initiatives in Jamaica. He also commended JSIF for assisting the community development process.
Mr. Montague added that the expansion of the school will not only benefit the students, but will also aid social and economic improvement in the community.
Managing Director of the JSIF, Scarlette Gillings, expressed pleasure in being associated with the event, and noted that the new facility was the first of five projects implemented under a grant from the EU BSP to be officially handed over.
She said the new block will provide the school with a more enabling learning environment, adding that its operation will also enhance the school’s history of excellence in agriculture, home making and personal development projects.
Noting that EU assistance also creates sustainable and viable income and employment opportunities, through the training received by the school’s Home Economics Department in product development and marketing, Mrs. Gillings asserted that the department was also equipped to better utilize produce from the school farm.
Declaring that the EU BSP was designed to enhance the rural development efforts of the Government, by improving access to social and economic infrastructure, she said the expansion of the school will enable it to play its role.
Mrs. Gillings encouraged the school community to continue the work towards the development of the institution, and appealed to the community to provide the necessary support to ensure its success.
Head of Rural Development for the European Delegation to Jamaica, Frederico Berna, noted that the EU has spent approximately 90 million Euros on developmental projects islandwide, making it the leading source of grant development funds, locally.
By ASTON G. BAILEY, JIS REGIONAL