KINGSTON — The newly constructed Old Works Basic School in Watermount, St. Catherine, was officially opened by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Dr. Kenneth Baugh, on Thursday (Nov. 17).
Dr. Baugh, who is also the Member of Parliament for West Central St. Catherine where the school is situated, underscored the need for collaborative approaches to enhancing the education of the children. Additionally, he stressed the importance which education must play in improving the economy.
“If we want to improve the performance of our children, it has to be a comprehensive, integrated seamless process, to bring that (level of) education to fruition,” Dr. Baugh said.
He added that he stood with Prime Minister, the Hon. Andrew Holness, “who has been the Minister of Education for the last four years, and who has made education a clarion call to all of us that, if we want to improve the economy of our country, it begins with education”.
He also commended JSIF, residents of the benefiting communities and other stakeholders for their inputs in completing the basic school.
Construction of the school was spearheaded by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF). The cost was $17.8 million, of which the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) provided $15.5 million and residents the remaining $1.5 million.
Outlining the scope of works in a brief speech delivered by JSIF Board member, Celia Champagnie, Managing Director, Scarlette Gillings, said it entailed construction and equipping of two classrooms; bathroom facilities for teachers and pupils; a kitchen with storage area; administrative area; drinking fountain; sick bay; play area; water storage tanks; sewer and drainage systems; and perimeter fencing. Other features include a new jungle gym, four-seater swing, see-saw, sand pit and a slide in the play area.
The institution replaces the previous one which, Mrs. Gillings said, had fallen into a deplorable condition. She said the project also entailed a sub-project, incorporating social and technical interventions for teachers and the wider community.
“Training was delivered in the areas of organizational development, conflict resolution, financial management, management of maintaining of facilities and planning and management,” she outlined.
Additionally, Mrs. Gillings said a computer system was also provided to enhance record keeping, and a social services component is to come on stream at the community level, to focus on the provision of family interventions, including the development of a skills bank to identify skills within the community.
“The investment in this community contributes to the fulfillment of the mandate of JSIF, to improve access of underserved communities to schools with facilities of good quality. It also matches the targeting policy of the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) project, whose main purpose is to increase access to, and improve social infrastructure, build capacity of community and local level organization and improve the participation of citizens and community groups in decision making,” Mrs. Gillings said.
By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter