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JIS News

Minister of Education, Andrew Holness, has disclosed that all schools, except those that require significant repairs, should be fully re-opened by the end of October.
He made this announcement during an interview with JIS News, on Wednesday (September 10), at the Ministry of Education’s Head Office in Kingston.
“We gave a directive that all schools should be opened as at the official start date of the school year and so we are working to have all the schools re-opened as quickly as possible. I would say that by the end of October, we should have all the schools up and running except those that require significant infrastructural repairs, for example, the building of a new classroom block may take six to nine months to complete, but those that have damaged roofs, (and) flood damage can be repaired fairly quickly,” the Education Minister emphasised.
He explained that at present, most schools are in a position to conduct some form of teaching.
“My understanding is that most schools would be able to conduct some form of teaching. It may not be under the best circumstances, but we would rather have the kids in school than out of school,” Minister Holness stated.
In the meantime, the Education Minister is appealing to the private sector to assist with fixing the damaged schools.
“Already we have our private partners in the corporate sector approaching us, to find out what they can do and we welcome any further support from the private sector in assisting in the repairs of our schools,” Mr. Holness pointed out.
According to the Minister, the estimated repairs will cost approximately $200 million and the damage varied in expense for the 52, schools that were identified as having been seriously affected.
“We have looked at 52 schools that had serious damage [that] ranged in value from $50,000 to as high as $20 million for repairs. The damage sustained to the schools infrastructure varied from leaky roofs to total replacement of classroom blocks,” Minister Holness disclosed.
Other damage included significant land slippage, damage to retaining walls, roadways, drainage and gully systems.
Additionally, the Education Minister explained that schools with damage below $2 million, will be financed from the Ministry’s budget within a few weeks.
“We are trying to repair those schools out of budget that are below a certain threshold and we have already taken the decision, that where the school in our judgment, has the capacity to conduct the repairs themselves, then it is far more efficient if we provided them with the funds,” he noted, while explaining that they are awaiting the Ministry of Finance to address schools with damage surpassing $2 million.