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Story Highlights

  • Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, has hailed the development of the new Union Gardens Infant School as an example of the Government’s commitment to early childhood education.
  • The Prime Minister, in her address, urged the parents to be critically involved in their children’s education, and called on the community, for which she is Member of Parliament, to help in the protection of the students and the preservation of the school environment.
  • The school currently has 103 students registered, but has the capacity for 150. It was designed using the basic planning standards for early childhood institutions established by the Early Childhood Commission (ECC).

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, has hailed the development of the new Union Gardens Infant School as an example of the Government’s commitment to early childhood education.

The state-of- the-art institution, located off Spanish Town Road in the South West St. Andrew constituency, was constructed at a cost of approximately $174 million through public-private partnership.

Speaking at the official opening today (Jan.13), the Prime Minister said early childhood education has remained one of the highest priorities of the Government.

Fourteen percent of the annual budget, or $11 billion, is allocated to early childhood and special education.

“I believe in education and I believe in the power of education,” the Prime Minister said.

The Union Gardens Infant School was developed out of an initiative of the Union Gardens Foundation.

Fifty percent of the project cost was contributed by private sector donors, and the other 50 percent was provided by the Culture, Health, Arts, Science and Education (CHASE) Fund and the Jamaica Social Investment Fund’s (JSIF) Poverty Reduction Programme, which is supported by the European Union (EU).

The institution, which was constructed between March and September 2015, boasts six spacious classrooms, covered walkway-linked buildings with play areas, landscaped common areas and an auditorium, among other features.

The infant school also has the electrical and mechanical infrastructure to accommodate the installation of solar power.

Classes started at the beginning of the school year in September and a bus has being assigned to shuttle the children to and from school, at no cost to their parents.

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Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller (left), greets children of the Union Gardens Infant School in South West St. Andrew, during a tour of the institution, ahead of its official opening Wednesday, January 13. She is accompanied by Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites (centre); and Chair of the Union Gardens Foundation, Hon. Glen Christian. The state-of-the-art institution was constructed last year through public-private investment valued at approximately $174 million.

The Prime Minister, in her address, urged the parents to be critically involved in their children’s education, and called on the community, for which she is Member of Parliament, to help in the protection of the students and the preservation of the school environment.

“My Government is committed to creating the macro-economic environment in which our people are empowered to create wealth for themselves and for their families,” she said, while expressing appreciation to the private sector donors.

Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, in his presentation, also appealed to parents to protect and support the institution.

“May we challenge everyone here, the parents in particular, to draw close to this institution and to make sure that they support the teachers and the sponsors in every way possible,” he said.

He announced that, in collaboration with the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, age-appropriate tablets will be provided for the students in September this year.

The school currently has 103 students registered, but has the capacity for 150. It was designed using the basic planning standards for early childhood institutions established by the Early Childhood Commission (ECC).

Some key donors involved in its construction include the Cari-Med/Kirk Distributors Foundation, National Baking Company Foundation, Seprod and Musson Foundation, Sandals Foundation, Stewart Industrial, and Kingston Wharves Limited.

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Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller (right); and Head of Delegation for the European Union (EU) in Jamaica, Ambassador Paola Amedei, unveil a plaque at a ceremony to officially open the new state-of-the-art Union Gardens Infant School in South West St. Andrew on Wednesday, January 13. Construction of the school was completed in September last year, through a $174 million public-private investment partnership, which included support of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund, through its EU Poverty Reduction Programme.