KINGSTON — Academic and extra-curricular programmes at the Trench Town Primary School, Kingston, have been significantly boosted with the renovation of the institution’s Resource Centre and the provision of educational and recreational equipment by the Canadian High Commission.
The approximately J$1 million project, initiated by Canadian High Commissioner to Jamaica, His Excellency Stephen Hallihan, was funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) programme.
Renovation of the Resource Centre and the development and installation of equipment in that facility and the play area were undertaken with help from the Jamaica Defence Force’s (JDF) Engineering Regiment.
Eight desktop computers, two laptops, a multimedia projector and three whiteboards were installed. See-saws, swings and slides were installed in the play area. Both were officially opened at a handing over ceremony on Wednesday (June 29).
Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, who addressed the function, noted that the provisions were closely aligned with Government’s strategy for improved performance at the pre-primary and primary school levels.
He said that Resource Centres are important teaching aids for Government’s intervention strategies for literacy, and those which incorporate technology, are very useful tools for encouraging, stimulating and assisting students with learning disabilities, or who may be advanced learners.
“What we seek to do with our Resource Centres is to use technology to meet the students at their developmental levels, and to help them to advance,” he said.
Mr. Holness lamented that the competitive nature of Jamaica’s education system, and the demand for space, force students to do well academically and renders play a “waste of time” by some persons.
“But, play is very important to learning. In fact, we should make learning fun, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that,” the Minister said.
“We are encouraging our schools to incorporate in the daily curriculum, supervised time for play. Play helps to build defined motor skills, it helps with health, it helps with memory, it helps to relieve stress and the easiest way for a child to learn is through play,” he added.
Mr. Holness also disclosed that the Government is currently exploring the possibility of strategically establishing play areas in public parks. He said that discussions have commenced with the Canadian High Commission, to see how the Ministry can partner with them in this undertaking.
High Commissioner Hallihan said the project was the fulfillment of an undertaking by himself and his wife, Cathy, following a visit to the school earlier this year.
“We were here just to rehabilitate the water fountain, but we couldn’t help noticing that the school had many other needs, as well, that needed to be met,” Mr. Hallihan said.
He explained that, after leaving the school, they decided to return and help the Principal, Merline Sewell-Sullivan, and her staff and students.
“And so…it’s a great privilege… to be back here with you today, and to make good on the pledge that we made,” Mr. Hallihan said.
Member of Parliament for the area, Dr. Omar Davies, noted that any investment in an educational institution was welcomed. He suggested that the only way to move a country from underdevelopment to development was through systematic improvement in its education and training systems.
By DOUGLAS McINTOSH, JIS Reporter