Rehabilitation works have been completed at the Gregory Park Primary School in Portmore, St. Catherine, by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), at a cost of just under $40 million.
This was done under Phase Two of the European Union (EU)-funded Poverty Reduction Programme (PRP II).
Works undertaken included the construction of a 100-metre block wall, and drainage system; replacement of damaged windows and doors; painting of the buildings; replacement of ply door partitions; replacement and installation of new lighting fixtures; installation of aluminum windows and new solid core doors; and paving of the driveway.
The project lasted for four months, and the symbolical handing over took place today (November 21), at a ceremony held at the school.
General Manager for Human Resources, Administration and Communications at the JSIF, Rhonda Lumsden Lue, said the cost to the Fund was approximately $29 million with a contribution of some $10 million made by the residents of Gregory Park and its environs. Their input, she informed, primarily entailed provisions for aspects of the civil works – electricity, discounted labour, among others.
“We are pleased to witness the conclusion of this project in Gregory Park. One recent study by the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CapRI) suggests that more resources need to be poured into primary education, and that an educated population is one of the few areas of comparative advantage which this island can develop,” she said.
“At the JSIF, one-third of all investments, since our inception, has been made in education, incorporating infrastructure, upgrades, expansion of schools, ranging from basic to high schools, and the provisions of skills training,” the General Manager added.
Meanwhile, Head of Operation for the EU Delegation in Jamaica, Jesus Orus Baguena, underscored the importance of investing in Jamaica’s education sector.
“The EU support to education (in Jamaica) is complementary to the work going on at the Government level and elsewhere to improve school facilities and to improve the standards of education in the country. Education unlocks the door that leads to opportunities for children to improve their lives and to have a better Jamaica. So, supporting the schools is an investment in Jamaica’s future,” Mr. Baguena said.
Senior Advisor to the Education Minister, Radley Reid, conveyed gratitude on the Ministry’s behalf for the work undertaken and the support which the EU and JSIF have been extending to schools islandwide.
In welcoming their inputs to the rehabilitation of Gregory Park Primary School, Mr. Reid said that without their intervention, that undertaking “would be a challenge.”
“The partnership approach is very important in the realisation of projects, such as this one at Gregory Park. Communities which contribute to the provision of physical structures, such as schools, will appreciate the facilities and protect them from vandalism,” he argued.
For his part, State Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, and Member of Parliament for the area (East Central St. Catherine), Hon. Arnaldo Brown, noted that the rehabilitation project was the first such undertaken by JSIF in the newly created constituency.
“We are very grateful for this investment in the school. The investment is not in the walls or the classrooms, but it is in the children and the future of Jamaica,” Mr. Brown said.
In his remarks, Portmore’s Mayor, George Lee, said the intervention will greatly assist in creating a safe and conducive environment for teaching and learning.
Principal of Gregory Park Primary, Ivy Jarrett, said the institution’s rehabilitation will “significantly impact” the school community.
“It also marks the cementing of a very special friendship between ourselves and the JSIF team,” she added.
The undertaking was a sub-project of the PRP II, which is funded jointly by the EU, under its Ninth European Development Fund Programme, and the Government of Jamaica. JSIF is the implementing agency for the PRP II.
Gregory Park Primary School is the 19th such institution to benefit under the programme since this phase started in 2009.
This timely intervention is expected to make the environment more conducive for teaching and learning for the approximately 854 enrolled students and 36 members of staff.