Gov’t Needs to Build 100 Schools to Achieve Secondary Education Target


The Government will need to undertake a major programme of construction in order to remove the shift system, reduce overcrowding at the secondary level and provide education up to Grade 11.
Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, making his Sectoral presentation in the House of Representatives on July 21, said that Government will have to build, refurbish and replace at least 100 schools to achieve its target.
The National Education Trust, which will be launched in December of this year, will assist the Government’s efforts in attaining the goal. “We have secured funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Bank, to establish the National Education Trust (NET),” Minister Holness informed.
The NET will be the focal point for interfacing with the Diaspora on issues of education and national development; provide a credible institutional framework for accountability and efficient use of donated funds; and plan and execute a programme of school construction and maintenance.
According to the Education Minister, “the plan is to build out the new schools required at the secondary level to ease the bottleneck at GSAT (Grade Six Achievement Test) and take all secondary schools off shifts. It is estimated that we would need to construct 30 new high schools and expand 10 schools to remove the shift system at the secondary level.
“We would also need to construct an additional 30 high schools to reduce overcrowding and accommodate students of secondary age who are not presently in the school system,” Mr. Holness informed.
In so doing, he said, the 43 all-age and junior high schools, presently operating on double shift, will have to be reverted to single shift primary schools, utilising the junior secondary space for additional primary age students.
The remaining 28 double-shift primary schools would be taken off shift strategically, by a process of rationalisation and consolidation, replacement, expansion and new construction, the Minister added.
It is estimated to cost about US$6.5 million to build a school to accommodate 1,200 students, using traditional building methods, and equipped to the standards set by the Ministry.
The exploding demand for places in the 1970s resulted in the implementation of the shift system as a short-term solution. Three decades later, there are 154,341 students attending 116 schools that remain on shift.
“The shift system has a major negative impact on the quality of education. If we are serious about quality, then we must provide universal secondary education, we must remove the shift system, and we must reduce overcrowding. Building more schools and improving the ones we have will increase access but it will also increase quality,” Mr. Holness said.

JIS Social