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The Ministry of Education and Youth has signed three contracts for extension work to commence on the Mayfield All-age and Christiana (Lease 1) Primary School, and a replacement for the Central Branch Infant School.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Maria Jones signed the official documents with the project contractors at the Ministry’s Heroes Circle Offices on (August 13), for work to begin in September. The contracts are valued at $185 million.
Extension work at Mayfield All-Age, situated in Southfield, St. Elizabeth, and Christiana Primary, Manchester would increase capacity at both schools by 210 spaces, Mrs. Jones said.
Furniture and equipment for classrooms in Grades 1-3, and administrative offices will be installed. Schools will also be equipped with Performing Arts rooms.
Work on both schools will be undertaken by W.A. Reid Construction Limited, while construction of the Central Branch Basic School in Kingston will be undertaken by Contraxx Enterprises Limited.
Both the Mayfield and Christiana projects fall under the Primary Education Support Project (PESP) and are being financed by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), with funds administered through the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Mayfield’s contract is valued at $67 million and Christiana, $58 million. The Central Branch Infant School will be funded at a cost of $60 million.
The Central Branch Infant School on Slipe Pen Road was destroyed by fire in April 2004. The project will be jointly financed by the Ministry of Education and Youth’s Education Transformation Project (ETP), which will provide $43 million, while the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund will provide $17 million.
Mrs. Jones noted that the upgrading of school facilities was indicative of the progress being made by the Ministry in transforming the sector. She noted that 75 per cent of the ETP budget would be spent on schools infrastructure and facilities, with emphasis on upgrading school facilities, constructing and improving schools.
She assured the Principals and Board members present that quality work would be carried out in a timely, cost-effective manner. “We are going to be doing our best to execute the work efficiently, properly and always in consideration of taxpayers’ money and interests,” she said.
“I’m very pleased at this moment,” commented Principal of the Christiana (Lease 1) Primary School, Mrs. Thelma Hendricks. “We are densely overcrowded and have long waited for this. At last we can go back to the community and say that we can carry out the mandate of the Ministry that ‘Every Child Can Learn. Every Child Must’,” she said.
Chairman of the Central Branch Infant School, Venerable Leon Golding, said that rebuilding the school was important for the future of the children, their early childhood development, and the community.
Describing the community as “difficult” with most citizens in the low income bracket, he pointed out that “by giving them hope and a chance to participate in the development of this country, they (children) will become independent persons.”
Clovis Tatum, Principal of Mayfield All-age, said the expansion was welcomed. “This is a memorable occasion,” he noted, lauding the Ministry’s transformation thrust.
“With this new thrust, we can have our children learn in an attractive environment, where they can have all the opportunity to learn the best way they can. This is development.” he said.
Construction on the schools under the PESP is scheduled to last for 12 months, while Central Branch Infant will take only four months.
In the meantime, Mrs. Jones said that construction activities on a number of schools would be completed and ready for opening in September. Among these are Gordon Town Primary and Bromley All-age. Construction would also begin on Chester Castle Primary in St. Elizabeth, the Permanent Secretary noted.
The PESP is a part of the Ministry’s overall Primary Education programme. The project’s budget for the 2007/08 financial year is $700 million.