The Culture, Health, Arts, Sport and Education (CHASE) Fund has allotted $10.2 million to the Office of National Reconstruction (ONR) to assist in the rehabilitation of 60 basic schools that suffered damage during Hurricane Ivan in September.
Of the schools to benefit, 19 are located in St. Thomas, 13 in Clarendon, 10 in St. Ann, with the others scattered across the parishes of St. Catherine, St. James, St. Elizabeth, Trelawny and Portland.
Danville Walker (right), Chief Executive Officer of the Office of National Reconstruction (ONR) shares a remark with Health Minister, John Junor.
Speaking at a recent press conference at the Grenada Crescent headquarters of CHASE, Danville Walker, Chief Executive Officer of the ONR, said that with more than 700 schools damaged by the hurricane, the ONR was very appreciative of the work done by CHASE in the reconstruction effort.
“CHASE has gotten off the mark very quickly and has adopted some methodologies in terms of getting their selected basic schools repaired. We will try to use these methodologies in fixing the primary schools, and those schools that have not been as severely damaged as others,” Mr. Walker said.
The Fund has been working diligently with the education committee of the ONR to repair damaged basic schools. In fact, Billy Heaven, CEO of CHASE, noted that repairs to schools facilitated by the Fund had already commenced and was expected to conclude while students were on holidays.
“We intend to speed up the repair process over the Christmas season in order to complete the process before the term starts,” Mr. Heaven stated.
For the ONR chief, the expectation is that all schools will be repaired by the end of the ONR term, which expires around March 31, next year. This expectation, Mr. Danville said, was despite the fact that some of the schools were significantly damaged and would take some time to be fully restored.
“We will continue to work with CHASE to complete the process. They have even taken on some schools that we have given them in addition to their own list. We do hope to give them a few more on our list,” he pointed out.
Mr. Walker also paid tribute to the many educational institutions, the majority of which opened shortly after the disaster, and some continue to operate under stressful circumstances. “This effort is a great credit to the institutions and the Education (Youth and Culture) Ministry that has been working with them,” he said.
Overall, the education sector, according to the ONR, has by far attracted the most donations, with support coming from the United States Agency for International Development, Jamaica Social Investment Fund, among other agencies, organizations and individuals.