JIS News

The delivery of Early Childhood education in Portland has been significantly boosted through the work of the Culture, Health, Arts and Education Fund (CHASE), which has been financing the development and expansion of a number of such institutions in the parish during the past year.
Since beginning operations in January 2003, CHASE has expended approximately J$7.5M to refurbish and expand four early childhood institutions in Portland. These include the St. Margaret’s Bay Basic School in St. Margaret’s Bay, the Little Folks Basic School in Buff Bay, the Orange Bay Basic School in Orange Bay and the Shrewsbury Basic School in Shrewsbury.
The four schools are recognised and registered by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture, but have experienced financial difficulties over the years due to a declining student population, and an inability to procure the necessary funding to enable a proper maintenance programme and provide adequate resources required for their successful operation. As a result, the school buildings were generally in a dilapidated condition with lack of adequate furniture and other necessary amenities and facilities. The earnings which these schools generated from fees was inadequate to maintain their physical structures, and in some instances donations of cash promised by private interest groups, as well as financial and technical assistance promised by corporate agencies did not materialise.
Consequently, the schools applied to the CHASE Fund for assistance with the cooperation of Early Childhood Education Officer at the Ministry’s Passley Gardens Regional Office in the parish, Maureen Campbell.
The applications were approved after inspections were conducted by the Fund’s officers to determine the needs and the legal requirements for funding. Such legal requirements included the security of tenure for the lands on which the school buildings are located, and adherence to zoning requirements and the execution of environmental impact assessment of the work to be done. Speaking to the JIS News, Projects Officer for the CHASE Fund, Hopeton Bryan said the organization had decided to assist the schools after the inspections revealed that the existing conditions at the schools were not conducive to the delivery of quality education.
The inspection he said confirmed the need for repairs and refurbishing outlined on the application and also identified additional needs, which the schools had to meet if they were to be successful. In addition to repairs, the institutions were also provided with amenities to aid students’ learning and assist the teaching process. Some $2.5 million was spent on the Orange Bay Basic School, and $1.9 million went toward the Shrewsbury Basic School, $980,000 to the St. Margaret’s Bay Basic School, and $2.1 million to the Little Folks Basic School.
Work on the Orange Bay Basic School began during the first week of September, and ended on January 3. The work included major refurbishing and painting of the building, the building of a new roof, the fencing of the compound and the construction of a new kitchen. In addition the school was presented with new furniture, recreational equipment for the students, and an industrial stove.
The Shrewsbury Basic School was completely transformed as the building was refurbished and extended to include new classrooms and additional bathrooms.
The work also involved the fencing of the compound and the relaying of the schools pipelines to allow for a more reliable water supply. The school was also presented with desks and chairs, ceiling fans and a refrigerator.
Work done on the Little Folks Basic School included the completion of the building, a paint job, rewiring of the electrical system and expansion of the kitchen and bathrooms. Additionally, the school received a new refrigerator, a new stove and recreational equipment for the students. In expressing gratitude to the CHASE Fund for the assistance, the principals of the institutions said the refurbishing would not only enhance the learning and social interaction skills of the children, but would also serve to further attract and accommodate students from the surrounding communities.
Principal of St. Margaret’s Bay Basic School expressed confidence that the new look would increase its student population significantly. She added that the St. Margaret’s Bay community on the whole was extremely grateful to the Fund for the generosity it had extended. Those sentiments were echoed by Marcia Dennis, Pamella Schoburgh, and Florette Treasure, Principals of Little Folks, Orange Bay, and Shrewsbury Basic School respectively. Mr. Bryan noted that investing in the early childhood education system was of critical importance if the country was to realise its objective of developing a first class education system. He added that the importance of early childhood training in the development of proper attitudes and values could not be over-emphasized.
Explaining that the refurbishing of the four schools was just a part of the involvement the CHASE Fund would be having in Portland over the next few months, Mr. Bryan disclosed that other projects to be undertaken shortly included the construction of a new school building at Angel’s Learning Centre in Buff Bay, the expansion of the Bloomfield Basic School in Swift River, and the refurbishing of the Buff Bay Basic School.
Miss Campbell exhorted residents of the community to care for and protect the buildings and reminded them that the initiative taken by the CHASE Fund to refurbish the schools represented an invaluable investment, which would contribute significantly to the social and economic development of the community.
The Fund was incorporated in November 2002, and began its operation in January 2003. It was registered under the Companies Act to receive, distribute, administer and manage monetary contributions from the lottery companies pursuant to section 59 G of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act in connection with Culture, Health, Arts, Sports Development and Early Childhood Education.

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