JIS News

Education Minister, Andrew Holness, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), for US$1.8 million, to assist the Tropical Storm Gustav rehabilitation effort.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, which took place on February 12, at the United States Embassy in Kingston, the Minister expressed his appreciation to the USAID and pledged to use the funds effectively.
“We want to use this opportunity to express our deepest gratitude for the assistance you have been giving to us over the years and we pledge to make the best use of it, so that you (USAID) can be proud of your investment and we can also reap the benefits of your investment in Jamaica,” he said, pointing out that the assistance would focus on 40 schools.
“We recommended 51 primary and all age schools, but 40 schools will be directly assisted. schools in the North Eastern parishes that were most affected by Tropical Storm Gustav,” the Minister noted. The remaining 11 schools will be repaired by the Ministry, from the Supplementary budget.
The parishes that sustained the greatest damage during the storm in August last year were: St. Mary, Portland, St. Thomas and St. Andrew.
In the meantime, Mr. Holness has reiterated the Ministry’s stance to improve literacy to 100 per cent in the primary school system, in five years.
“I think by now Jamaica knows that the attainment of literacy is a national objective. We have statistics approximately 10 years old that say we are about 87 per cent literate in terms of our adult population. Our last measure of literacy in the primary schools tells us about 81 per cent of the cohort would have attained literacy, after an intervention is done. This is admirable, but I am not satisfied,” he said.
“Jamaica, as a country with the history we have and the quality of resources, at this point in time literacy should not be a consideration. We should have already been at 100 per cent literacy and so we are doubling our efforts to ensure that our primary school system produces 100 per cent literacy in its out-turn. If we correct the problem there (at the primary level), then the issue of adult illiteracy will vanish over time,” the Minister argued.
Mission Director of the USAID, Dr. Karen Hilliard, explained that her agency is thrilled to be assisting Jamaica, and would work closely with the Ministry during the rehabilitation of the schools.
“We are very happy to be a part of the Government’s Gustav recovery effort. We plan to work closely with the Ministry of Education, their building officers, contractors and supervisory engineers to manage the school repairs and restore the damage to educational facilities, to full functionality,” she said.
The rehabilitation work is expected to commence immediately, and should end within seven months.

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