Education Ministry Makes Progress on Abolishing Shift System

Photo: JIS Photographer Minister of Education, the Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites (standing) making his contribution to the Sectoral Debate in parliament.

The Ministry of Education will be undertaking a number of initiatives as it moves ahead with plans to abolish the shift system.

This was disclosed by Education Minister, the Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, during his contribution to the 2013/14 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on May 15.

“We have a serious problem with the shift system, especially in the secondary schools. We have to have a plan to eliminate it,” he stated.

Rev. Thwaites announced the construction of new schools and the expansion of existing institutions through public-private partnership as one of the steps being taken. “This year, we will be completing two schools, one at the primary and the other at the secondary level,” he informed.

Rev. Thwaites noted that one new high school to accommodate 1,000 students costs about $800 million. He said it is therefore important that the private sector partners with the government on this initiative.

He informed that a number of private sector partners have come on board, including an offer from Turkish investors to erect a high school in Montego Bay.

“We have the funds and the interested investors to advance this project year after year, to take it island wide to relieve the shift system,” he remarked.

He further noted that the Ministry will also make use of existing privately-owned educational institutions, by expanding and linking with established traditional schools, and refurbishing other existing facilities to provide additional places at the secondary level.

Plans are also in place for the provision of between 10 and 15 new blocks of eight modular classrooms, he said.

“In most cases, one of those, costing about $40 million, can move a school from shift to an extended day programme with great benefit to teachers and students,” he remarked.

Contact: Athaliah Reynolds-Baker

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