Teachers and students of Patrick Town Primary and Infant School in Manchester will have the benefit of additional classrooms when the 2021-22 academic year commences in September, following the completion of a new building at the institution.
The facility, which was constructed at a cost of $32 million with financing from the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund, is expected to significantly address the issue of inadequate classroom space at the school.
The institution, previously a stand-alone primary school, incorporated an infant department in 2016 following a rationalisation exercise by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information.
This saw several basic schools in proximity to Patrick Town Primary being merged with the institution.
Chairman, Reverend Barrington Bailey, tells JIS News that the rationalisation exercise resulted in the school’s administration reorganising the available space to accommodate new students and teachers.
This undertaking, he points out, included converting the staff and math rooms into classrooms.
“The rooms that were used for grades one and two students were transformed to accommodate the little ones, and that resulted in a change in the overall infrastructure,” Rev. Bailey explains.
The infant department has an enrolment of 29 youngsters, comprising 18 boys and 11 girls, and a staff complement of two trained teachers and a caregiver.
According to Reverend Bailey, the new building’s facilities will improve the learning environment for teachers and students.
“I think [it] will [greatly] impact their mental readiness, in that they will have more space, each teacher will have their [own] classroom, and the bathroom facilities will now be adequate. So [they] should be in a better [state] of readiness as we get ready for [the resumption of] face-to-face learning,” he says.
Reverend Bailey further tells JIS News that he anticipates the new building boosting the likelihood of the infant department being certified by the Early Childhood Commission.
He also praises the CHASE Fund for their contribution to the development of the institution’s infrastructure.
“We laud their efforts, as this new building is a massive improvement to the school itself. It will stand out in the community, and the community [members], of course, are proud of their institution and its new addition,” Reverend Bailey adds.
Meanwhile, CHASE Fund Chief Executive Officer, Billy Heaven, says the organisation remains committed to facilitating the upgrading of some of the institutions, to enable them to provide the best environment for optimal learning.
“The real value of these schools is the purpose that they will serve to start the journey of nurturing the significant years of a child’s life, influence how they learn to relate to their peers and those in positions of authority, and provide a place where they will learn to take pride in themselves, school, community and their country,” he says.
Mr. Heaven emphasised that all students are entitled to a standard of education that lays the foundation for their future success.
During the 2020-21 fiscal year, the CHASE Fund financed 12,000 square feet of infrastructure development through the construction, renovation, and expansion of five infant schools and departments across Jamaica, totalling approximately $134 million.
The beneficiary institutions are: Lacovia Primary and Infant School in St Elizabeth, Free Hill Primary and Infant School in St Mary, Priory Primary and Infant School in St. Ann, and Pondside Primary and Infant School.
To date, the CHASE Fund has invested $5.7 billion in the early childhood education sector.
These funds have served to build and renovate schools; finance capacity building for administrators, early childhood educators/practitioners; assist in facilitating revisions in curricula design; facilitate nutrition interventions; and support the acquisition of vital educational aids and resource material.