The Jew Pen Basic School in Bog Walk, St. Catherine will have a permanent home soon, following the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of a new facility to house the institution on August 29.
The school is the third of 50 early childhood education institutions that will be built by Food For The Poor in this Jamaica's Jubilee year. It is being situated on lands donated by the Bog Walk High School.
Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, in his remarks at the groundbreaking, lauded the partnership among the state, Food for the Poor and the community in the building of the institution.
He said that the school, when completed, will fall under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, and will offer better trained teachers and a good nutrition programme for the children.
The Education Minister stated that Jew Pen Basic School should not only produce bright children, "who can read and multiply and know times tables. We want children who have manners, we want children, who have discipline…we in Jamaica have to use basic education to achieve some of these objectives."
Citing statistics, which claim that 30 per cent of children go to school hungry, Rev. Thwaites implored the parents to "try very hard to give your children a little porridge before they come out in the morning, or something useful, like an egg." He reminded them that the more nourishment the children get, the better they learn.
Minister with responsibility for Sports and Member of Parliament for St. Catherine North Central, Hon. Natalie Neita Headley, expressed pride at the construction of the school, noting that it was long in coming. She urged the residents to take responsibility for the institution.
"The maintenance of this building, the security of this building, the support to the school, to the teachers and the parents, is going to be your responsibility. Everything we do in life comes with responsibility and somebody has to be responsible. Today, we are imploring the people of Jew Pen to be responsible for the Basic School that you are going to receive," she said.
She also encouraged the parents to send their children to school “no matter how tough times get".
Representative of Food For the Poor, Marcus Irons, said the charity will provide a quality school, with the required facilities and resources to facilitate learning.
He said that despite the hilly terrain, “we will create levels, we will create playground levels and we will build a very strong structure. We are also speaking to HEART TRUST/NTA, which will also be helping out the teachers to get them to a better level of education so that they can teach the students."
Mr. Irons informed that there will be communication with the teachers, the principal and the students to get an idea from them, what they need and what Food For The Poor can offer. There will also be discussions regarding a sustainable system of maintenance, he added.
The Jew Pen Basic School is celebrating 50 years as an educational institution this year. Established by Karis Myers and Ivy Wilson Smith in 1962, the school initially operated out of the Jew Pen Apostolic Church, before relocating to the Seventh Day Church of God, but will have to vacate those premises soon.
Also participating in the groundbreaking were former Principal of Bog Walk High, who was instrumental in securing the land for the school, Frederick Lewis; Councillor of the Angel’s Division, Patricia Harris; President of the Kiwanis Club of Linstead, Lebert Newby; and surviving founding member of the Jew Pen Basic School, Mrs. Ivy Smith.