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Story Highlights

  • Some 150 students in the South West St. Andrew community of Union Gardens will benefit from the construction of a state-of-the-art early childhood institution, valued at approximately $120 million.
  • The Union Gardens Infant School, which will cater to students aged three to six, will commence this month, and is expected to be completed in time for the start of the new academic year.
  • The project is the brainchild of the Union Gardens Foundation (UGF), a group of local business executives, led by Chairman of Cari-Med, Glen Christian, with support from the Government.

Some 150 students in the South West St. Andrew community of Union Gardens will benefit from the construction of a state-of-the-art early childhood institution, valued at approximately $120 million.

The Union Gardens Infant School, which will cater to students aged three to six, will commence this month, and is expected to be completed in time for the start of the new academic year. It will be managed by the Ministry of Education.

The project is the brainchild of the Union Gardens Foundation (UGF), a group of local business executives, led by Chairman of Cari-Med, Glen Christian, with support from the Government.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, hailed the initiative, noting that investment in education is one of the best ways to transform a community.

“What better way is there to ensure that all our children can have the best start, and the best opportunity for success, thereby preparing them to make a real contribution to their families, communities and country,” she said at the launch held on March 4 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston.

Mrs. Simpson Miller, who is also Member of Parliament for South West St. Andrew, said she is especially heartened to see private sector companies giving back to their communities.

“It is projects like these, which demonstrate how public/private partnerships can truly transform communities and, ultimately, our nation,” she noted.

The 11,000 square feet facility, which will see the merging of three existing basic schools, will feature three large classrooms with en-suite bathrooms; a library; a spacious auditorium; covered walkway-linked buildings with play spaces, adjoining semi-enclosed teaching areas; and administrative offices.

Students will benefit from free transportation to and from school; extra-curricular activities sponsored by various private sector entities; free hot lunches; and free enrolment.

Education Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, informed that a cadre of teachers will be trained and certified by the Ministry to serve the school.

He said the design of the institution is in keeping with the basic planning standards for early childhood institutions, prepared by the Early Childhood Commission (ECC) of Jamaica.

Rev. Thwaites pointed out that this is in line with the modern understanding of early childhood education, which is the recognition that such schools are more than just “a keep and care operation,” but rather a place in which the basic habits are formed and personality and brains are developed.

Chairman of the Culture, Health, Arts, Science and Education (CHASE) Fund, Dr. Carlton Davis, gave the fund’s commitment to continue to support projects that are geared towards developing the education sector.

“This (project) deserves support and it is clear that the wicket is very well rolled for CHASE to step to the plate with this project,” he stated.

For his part, Mr. Christian, who chairs the UGF, appealed to other companies and charitable organisations to lend their support to the “worthwhile project.”

The learning facility is designed by Architect, Mark Taylor, who is the creative mind behind the award-winning Evelyn Mitchell Infant School in Top Hill, Clarendon.