JIS News

Students and staff of Constant Spring Primary and Junior High School in Cassava Piece, St. Andrew are benefitting from a more comfortable learning environment, with the handing over of a new Grade One classroom block at the school Wednesday (March 3).

The project, funded at a cost of just over $28 million by the European Union under its Poverty Reduction Programme (PRP II), seeks to aid social development in volatile areas. It was implemented through the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), with community contribution, by way of labour and other means, amounting to $10 million.

In welcoming the project, Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, stressed the importance of literacy, noting that illiteracy affects communities as a whole. Making the link between literacy and crime, he said that the lack of functionality creates a lack of access problem.

“There are many people in communities who are not able to think and maneouver life in a certain way and, therefore, the choices they make are a direct result of being unable to access information that would allow them to make life choices to make them better off,” he said.

The Education Minister stated that exposure to education enables better decisions about children, personal relationships, careers, health, and the environment, while the inability to access information that would impact on decision-making process affects, generally, the quality of life.

He added that, in recognition of the importance of literacy, the Ministry has focused on this area for the past three years, putting in place institutional arrangements to ensure universal literacy at the primary level.

“Our objective is to ensure that all educable persons in primary schools leave the primary system literate, at least at the Grade Four level,” he stated.            

Head of the EU Delegation in Jamaica, Ambassador Marco Mazzocchi Alemanni, noted the importance of tackling the needs of inner city communities, pointing out that the EU and JSIF had decided that the best way to assist troubled communities was to invest in education there.

“I know that you have a lot of other concerns, and certainly jobs is one of them (and) this (project) has helped some of you to get work, at least for that period of time (four months),” he remarked.

“What we have done here, I think, is useful because we are going to get classrooms that are less overcrowded,” he noted, stressing that more classroom space at primary institutions would eventually eliminate the two-shift system.

The EU is assisting some 18 schools under the PRP II. A new block was handed over at the Maverly Primary and Junior High School in St. Andrew last year and upgrading at the remaining 16 schools, is in progress, Managing Director of the JSIF, Scarlette Gillings told the gathering of students, staff, parents and other stakeholders.

She noted that through the EU’s provision of grant funding, the JSIF has Implemented the PRP I and is currently implementing the PRP II. Both programmes have resulted in over $450 million being spent on schools alone.

The project comprises four classrooms, sanitary facilities, perimeter fencing, water storage tanks, an equipped play area, and classroom furniture and equipment.