The Ministry of Transport and Mining today (October 6) handed over two buses to the Tacky High and Mile Gully High schools as part of the Ministry’s mandate to strengthen transportation capacity of rural school districts.
The vehicles, valued at approximately $19 million each, were officially handed over at the Ministry on Maxfield Avenue in Kingston.
Funding for the purchase of the vehicles was provided through the Ministry’s corporate social responsibility programme.
In his remarks at the ceremony, Transport and Mining Minister, Hon. Robert Montague, said the initiative seeks to address the challenges being faced by students in keeping abreast with their schoolwork.
Noting that the majority of students in these schools do not have reliable access to Internet connectivity, the school bus initiative is one of several measures being explored by the Government to ensure universal access to information by students.
“In the best of times, these children are challenged to come to school, and now with the pandemic, that extra pressure on them is horrendous. In choosing these schools, we took those matters into consideration. The imperative is immediate to get the material to these students,” he said.
Member of Parliament, North West Manchester, Mikael Phillips, said the initiative is important in the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic period, when face-to-face learning has been suspended and students are being engaged in virtual learning.
“Although we do not have students in school right now, schools will still have to do distribution of educational materials and assist in the school operations, and the buses will be helpful in this regard,” he said.
Principal of Tacky High, St. Mary, Errol Basco, thanked the Ministry for the vehicle, adding that the school will be delivering educational material to those students who do not have Internet access.
“We have 1,187 students enrolled. We started school on Monday and were shocked to realise only 330 students have Internet connectivity. So, this Thursday, we will be hitting the road with this bus to do distribution of learning materials, so the bus could not have come at a better time,” Mr. Basco said.
Similarly, Principal, Mile Gully High in Manchester, Christopher Tyme, told JIS News that the bus will be used not only to deliver educational material to students but the school is also seeking to acquire a mobile server to provide Internet access to students in remote areas.
“We will be using the bus and the mobile server to go to these communities to establish Internet connectivity,” he noted.
The initiative was conceptualised by the Ministry in partnership with the Transport Authority and the National Education Trust (NET).