Feature
The new sanitation unit at Westphalia Primary School in St. Andrew, which was constructed by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), under the Government of Jamaica Schools’ Sanitation Project.
Photo: Contributed

School administrators at several institutions benefiting from the Government’s Schools’ Sanitation Project, being implemented by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), are expressing gratitude for the equipment and capacity-building development received.

The project, which was previously executed under the PetroCaribe Development Fund (PDF), has been renamed the Government of Jamaica Schools’ Sanitation Project, and provided benefits to 75 schools.

Systems Operation and Environment Manager at JSIF, Dr. Milton Clarke, tells JIS News that key components of both projects included the replacement of pit latrines with modern bathroom and toilet facilities, including features for the physically challenged; the construction of sanitation blocks with tertiary-level sewerage treatment systems; installation of rainwater harvesting or water-storage systems; and the provision of coronavirus (COVID-19) response equipment and supplies, including handwashing stations, solid waste storage receptacles, non-contact infrared thermometers, liquid soap, sanitisers and cleaning equipment, among other provisions.

The project also included capacity building training sessions in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) for representatives from the schools.

Funding for deliverables under both projects, which were executed between 2012 and 2021, is approximately $500 million.

Dr. Clarke tells JIS News that “an investment of this magnitude has certainly impacted the education system positively, at a time when schools across Jamaica are faced with limited resources”.

He notes that access to proper hygiene and sanitation conditions “is an international development imperative and a priority of the Government of Jamaica”, adding that “this project was developed to be aligned with the country’s long-term National Development Plan – Vision 2030 Jamaica”.

“We, therefore, urge the school administrators to make every effort to utilise the items received, in accordance with the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ protocols, in an effort to protect the population from this dreaded disease,” Dr. Clarke adds.

Westphalia Primary School and Hall’s Delight Primary School, located in East Rural St. Andrew, are the last two institutions to have benefited under the project’s last phase.

The new sanitation block at Hall’s Delight Primary School in St. Andrew, which was constructed by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), under the Government of Jamaica Schools’ Sanitation Project.

 

Principal of Westphalia Primary School, Sylvia Walker, says the institution is greatly appreciative of the benefits received.

“JSIF has been doing a great job in implementing these necessary essentials in schools. This is an excellent project. So hats off to JSIF and the Government for their very excellent contribution to our school community,” she tells JIS News.

‘Training-of-trainers’ sessions, executed under the WASH programme, were another important component that had a positive impact on the lives of the school administrators.

Mrs. Walker describes the training as a “very intense programme”, which provided “a lot of new information on sanitation and the environment”.

Key among the takeaways for her were guidelines on the proper management of solid waste material and maintenance of buildings, as well as the general compound, in light of the COVID-19 protocols.

She also notes that these protocols and activities will serve the institution well and will help to curtail the spread of the pandemic in the school environment.

Principal of Hall’s Delight Primary School, Denise Duncie, shares similar sentiments.

Meanwhile, Principal of Arcadia Primary and Infant School in St. Thomas, Dezmonica Smith, tells JIS News that the training programme proved to be very informative for the representatives from her institution.

“It enlightened us on the different areas in which we can enhance our school curriculum. It also opened our eyes and minds to ideas that can serve to uplift self-esteem among students and staff. We were educated on areas such as water sanitation, food safety, hygiene practices, solid waste management, building maintenance, and COVID-19 readiness,” she informs, while noting that key takeaways were shared with other members of the school community.

Principal of Adelphi Primary School in St. James, Marlon Campbell, describes the training as “a very engaging experience”.

“We had presenters from the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the Jamaica Fire Brigade, among other entities. The sessions included establishing sanitisation schedules, as well as different approaches that can be adopted, in terms of how we go about sanitising our school during COVID-19 and beyond, in order to ensure that everyone who enters the compound is safe,” he points out.

The Principal tells JIS News that as a result of the benefits derived, COVID-19 preventative measures are in full force at the school.

Principal of Fyffes Pen Primary School in St. Elizabeth, Morant Mitchell, says the project’s implementation is having a very positive impact on the institution.

He notes that the knowledge gained from the training sessions was shared with students, which has resulted in several of them being designated bathroom monitors in order to maintain proper hygiene practices.

Mr. Mitchell says the school also received two 600-gallon water tanks, which have boosted their water-storage capacity.

He also indicates that the project’s impact has resulted in increased student enrolment, from 110 to 160, noting that they include youngsters from neighbouring communities.

“Kudos to JSIF and, by extension, the Government for implementing this project. This is one of the best initiatives that I have seen in a long while,” Mr. Mitchell says.

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