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A total of 14 primary and all-age schools in inner-city communities in Kingston and St. Andrew and St. Catherine, were today (Feb. 8) presented with cheques totaling some $2.6 million toward interventions to improve numeracy and literacy.
The beneficiary institutions are Chetolah Park, St. Anne’s, St. Michael’s, Trench Town, Holy Rosary, Denham Town, St. Andrew, Seaview Gardens, Seaward, McAuley and Homestead primary schools, and Greenwich, Rennock Lodge and Whitfield All-age and junior high schools.
The allocation was made under the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture’s Inner-city Schools Improvement Project, and ranged from a minimum of $114,400 to $327,250.
Education Minister Maxine Henry-Wilson, who handed over the cheques to the school principals at the Ministry’s National Heroes Circle headquarters in Kingston, explained that the inner-city project was guided by the principles that every child can learn and every child must learn, and that all children deserved to learn in comfortable facilities.
“So when we begin to do an assessment of the education system and we looked at the physical facilities of some school, the learning infrastructure, the teaching and learning supports, we realize that they tended to be quite uneven and.if we are not careful, we will violate both principles,” she said.
The Education Minister informed that the government was working through the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) to upgrade these schools. “We believe that the physical facilities to which children are exposed or asked to learn does two things – they feel it is a reflection of themselves and they also feel that it is the value that we place on them. If they are in dilapidated conditions, it is very difficult for them to exhume the level of self-esteem and self-worth that is a critical component of learning,” she pointed out.
Minister Henry-Wilson urged the principals and leaders to capitalize on the recommended interventions under the inner-city project and complement these initiatives by working with parent teachers associations and communities.
Co-ordinator for the Inner-city Schools Improvement Project, Margaret Brissett-Bolt, explained that the programme was conceived when data revealed that the attendance rates at some of these schools was below the national average; there was a high percentage of pre-trained teachers; inadequate or excess capacity; poor infrastructure; under-performance of students; frequent vandalism and break-ins; and little or no parent or community participation in school activities.
“The Inner-city Schools Improvement Project proposes a broad outline of interventions to address the problems experienced by 23 selected schools in the inner-city communities,” she informed.
Among the interventions, she noted, was a programme of personal development with emphasis on attitudes and values; grades 1,2,3,4 and 7 literacy and numeracy programmes; the establishment of resource centres and cultural activities; staff development; improvement in physical support facilities; provision of additional basic furniture and equipment, among other things.
In terms of achievements, Mrs. Brissett-Bolt informed that some 11 primary schools were upgraded and repaired with nine receiving new classroom blocks; all schools have been painted with roofs fixed and windows replaced; resource and technology rooms built, equipped and upgraded; libraries have been repaired and training conducted for teachers in numeracy interventions, among others.