Education Minister Signs Contracts for Upgrading and Construction of Schools


Minister of Education, Andrew Holness, on (Jan. 10) signed two contracts valued at more than $500 million for the upgrading of the Bluefields All-age School in Westmoreland and the construction of new facilities to house the Springfield Primary School in St. James.
The signing ceremony was held at the Ministry’s National Heroes Circle office in Kingston.
Bluefields All-age will be expanded and upgraded to a high school at a cost of $304 million. The upgraded facility, which, among other things, will consist of three multi-level blocks, a single storey block, connecting stairways and basketball court, will provide 400 additional classroom spaces to bring the total to 900. Contractor for the project is Build-Rite Construction Company Limited and work is expected to be completed in 14 months.
In the meantime, Springfield Primary, now sited on the grounds of the Springfield Baptist Church, will be relocated to the Thaftsburry Cottage property, where a new school will be built at a cost of $198 million. When completed, the facility will be able to hold 630 students and work is expected to be completed in 12 months. The contractor is SWC Wood Work and Construction Limited.
Minister Holness, in his remarks, said that the project to upgrade Bluefields All-age “will help in relieving the space constraint (at the secondary level) that is being experienced in Westmoreland.”
He said that the Ministry’s vision for the education sector is one in which there is a 1:30 teacher-pupil ratio and an environment where teachers and students can be comfortable. “In looking at that vision, it is very important that we pay close attention to the need for building more schools. There is also the need to remove schools from the shift system,” Mr. Holness pointed out.
He informed that of the 124 schools that were on shifts, “we have, since this school year, taken off 8 so far, so there are 116 more schools left to go.”
In the meantime, Betty Drummond Gayle, Acting Principal of the Bluefields All-age school, noted that the community welcomed the upgrading work.”This will not only be an asset to the community but also enhance the learning process. More school space will be provided for Westmoreland and being the second high school in Eastern Westmoreland, the time students spend travelling to and from school will be minimised,” she stated.
In addition, Member of Parliament for Eastern Westmoreland, Luther Buchanan, noted that the construction of a second secondary school in the constituency will “help in alleviating the transportation problems that some children now face.” Rev. Joseph Anderson, Board Chairman of the Springfield Primary School, noted that the existing facility had “become unsuitable and had outlived its usefulness.” “We anxiously look forward to the day when a new school would be built and we are extremely delighted that this has become a reality,” Rev. Anderson said.

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