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Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, is encouraging investors to explore the commercial side of the education sector, with a view to investing in school plants.
He was speaking yesterday (March 18), at the dedication ceremony for the American International School of Kingston’s (AISK) new facilities, at College Greens Avenue, in Kingston.
Noting that it would require the construction of approximately 120 new schools at a cost of close to US$1 billion in order to have enough school places to facilitate universal secondary education, Mr. Holness said there was a need for public-private partnerships in the sector.
“In other societies they have developed the public-private partnership concept, where the government takes on the obligation of paying for the construction and maintenance of the school over the useful life of the school asset, while in the short term investors build the schools and maintain the schools. This provides an asset and an investment that makes sense for both the government and the investor,” he explained.
Currently, Jamaica enjoys universal primary education. However, there are only enough school spaces at the secondary level to accommodate 68 per cent of that age cohort.
The Minister informed that in addition to seeking out public-private partnerships, the Government’s plan to establish a National Education Trust would help to leverage philanthropic support for the construction of schools. He added that the Government is optimistic it will be able to surmount the challenges faced by the education sector.
“We are not deterred by the difficult circumstances in which we find ourselves presently. We are optimistic that these circumstances will pass. In the interim, we are preparing ourselves to take advantage of a far sunnier future than we have experienced in the last 30 years,” Mr. Holness said.The AISK is a private non-profit educational institution, catering to 270 children from pre-school to the high school years. Forty per cent of the student body is Jamaican and the other 60 per cent comprise students of
30 other nationalities.
Commenting on the vision of the school administrators in establishing and expanding the school, Mr. Holness encouraged more international schools to come to Jamaica and offer education here.
Director of AISK, Mr. Sean Goudie, outlined that there are 32 air-conditioned classrooms, with the latest teaching technology; four state-of-the-art science laboratories; a dance studio; e-school infrastructure; playing fields and other facilities.
The AISK has been in existence since 1994, but recently relocated to its new facilities at College Greens Avenue.