JIS News

Chief Procurement Officer in the Ministry of Education, Leon Fraser, has disclosed that more than $48 million has so far been spent on the issuance of contracts to manufacture school furniture, some of which are already being delivered, despite the challenges being faced with access.
“To date, we have ordered furniture in the region of $48 million, and that dollar value will increase as we order more furniture as we go along. Furniture is being distributed to all Regions. There is a challenge with the eastern end of the country, because the bridge at Harbour View was washed out and the fording that was supposed to be built was also washed out. When the temporary fording was put in place, we managed to get some furniture out to Yallahs and to Seaforth High in St. Thomas, and the plan was to get to other schools in that section of the island. But again, we have suffered a set back because the fording was washed out,” Mr. Fraser informed.
Continuing, he stated that, “we are looking at ways of getting the furniture to them as quickly as possible. We are hopeful that we can find some alternative route to the fording, we don’t know how, but that is the major drawback right now, because we would have really addressed that situation already. We don’t know how quickly it [the fording] will be repaired so that we can resume deliveries, because we have furniture in production and we are delivering them as they come off the production line. So it’s just a matter for us to really get access to the schools”.
The Chief Procurement Officer also reiterated that furniture is being delivered to all parishes.
“We have been addressing all the parishes. It’s a continuing process because we deliver furniture right throughout the year based on the request that we get from the regions and from education officers. It is not fair to say that furniture is not being distributed,” the Chief Procurement Officer emphasised.
He informed that a large quantity of furniture has already been delivered to schools.
“We have delivered quite a lot of furniture to schools, thousands of pieces. Last year alone, we supplied over 124, 000 pieces of furniture to schools and this year the trend is continuing. So far, 14,302 pieces were delivered up to Friday (Sept. 19), and the process will continue throughout the school year, because we get requests from the regions in an ongoing manner,” Mr. Fraser pointed out.
In addition, he explained that furniture is also being distributed to infant schools.
“We have also been distributing quite a number of furniture to the infant and basic schools, last year we targeted and delivered to over 434 schools, and we are continuing that trend. So far for this year, we have already targeted 80 schools. We delivered 25,657 pieces last school year, and that comprised seating for students and teachers, storage cupboards, filing cabinets, screen boards, etc. So far this year, we have delivered 5,197 pieces of mainly cupboards and seating for students,” the Chief Procurement Officer noted.
In the meantime he is imploring teachers and students to take good care of the furniture that is delivered to the schools.
“It is very expensive to supply furniture to schools. A set of desks and chairs cost over $4,000, so we need the school management and the students to actually take care of the furniture that is being supplied to the schools. I don’t think a lot of them are aware of just how expensive it is, not only to manufacture the furniture but to deliver it. The haulage costs are also high and we want to ensure that all the stakeholders really take care of the furniture, It’s one thing to ask us to provide it, but you also need to play your part,” he pointed out.