KINGSTON — In the prevailing climate of budgetary constraints, the Ministry of Education is giving priority to those schools that are in urgent need of repairs, according to Director of Technical Services in the Ministry, Errol Golding.
“We have identified schools that are in need of critical repairs in specific areas, including sanitation, water supply, electrical and roofing. The Ministry will be spending close to $20 million overall to effect repairs to these schools,” he noted.
Mr. Golding told JIS News in an interview that repairs to schools are an on-going exercise, but during the holidays major repairs are undertaken.
“Additionally, the Ministry has provided some $23.7 million to primary schools; $8.2 million to high schools and $1 million to infant and basic schools for preventive maintenance, such as cleaning-up and minor maintenance, ”he pointed out.
“With regard to furniture, desk and chairs are proving to be a challenge, but we have furniture in store that will be distributed on demand, or to those with critical needs. Although we may not be able to meet all the needs, we will be able to satisfy most,” he said.
Meanwhile, the government’s initiative to provide more schools for Jamaican children is progressing well and will significantly ease the quest for school space.
According to Mr. Golding, the projects are at various stages of construction, some of which should be completed by year-end and others to be completed next year.
The Red Hills Primary School in St. Andrew is under construction and is to replace the old school. Completion is set for year end. The Steer Town High School, in St. Ann, is expected to be opened by January, 2012.
Mr. Golding said the new Mansfield Primary School, in St. Ann, which currently accommodates the students who will occupy the Steer Town High School in January 2012, will be expanded and re-opened as a high school.
Meanwhile, the Belmont Academy in Westmoreland and the Foga Road and Denbigh High Schools in Clarendon are to be expanded to accommodate more students for the new academic year.
Organisations such as the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) and the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund have been assisting the Ministry with the building and rehabilitating of schools, particularly at the early childhood level.
By JUDITH HUNTER, JIS PR Officer