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United Kingdom-based Jamaican, Verley Josephs, is working to transform the small primary school that he attended in rural St. Elizabeth, into a model institution for primary education.
Through the Association of Friends of Primary Education, which he founded, Mr. Josephs raised several thousand pounds to build and equip a new library at the Fyffe’s Pen Primary School, with adjoining medical room.
Proper staff quarters have also been constructed while other aspects of the school’s plant have been improved. “It is the school I went to as a boy,” Mr. Josephs tells JIS News in an interview.
He says he decided to embark on the school development project when he visited in the late 1990s “and I saw that they did not have a proper library. The library consisted of a box with some books and a shelf. I said to them, this cannot continue, we have to do something about it.”
He informs that the Association of Jamaican UK Trust was instrumental in the early stages of the project, but when the organisation could no longer continue the support, he formed the Association of Friends of Primary Education, and sought assistance from the Oakbeams Educational Support Network.
“Because I was the one who was enthusiastic about (the project), I could not let it just die,” he tells JIS News.
The initiative has also attracted support from across the UK and the library is named for one of its early supporters, Tom Langridge, an elderly Englishman, who used funds from his savings and pension to help get the project off the ground.
Mr. Josephs says that Mr. Langridge, who is now 90 and in a nursing home, still maintains a keen interest in the project and receives regular letters and cards from the Fyffe’s Pen students.
Mr. Josephs is pleased that in addition to the work being done by the UK group at Fyffe’s Pen Primary, the Jamaican Government also has an upgrading project underway at the school, which has facilitated the construction of new canteen and toilets facilities.
He tells JIS News that the support for Fyffe’s Pen is paying off , as the grades of the students have been improving and they are doing very well at the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) and moving on to high schools.
He notes also that student nurses from Black River are making use of the fully equipped library.
According to Mr. Josephs, the Association of Friends of Primary Education will continue its support to Fyffe’s Pen Primary, noting that the aim is “to create a model school of the highest standard.”
In fact, the funds raised at a Valentine’s Day dinner in February, will go towards fencing the school grounds and funding a community project. “We are looking at supporting the community project, which will involve building houses for some homeless people and a water project in the area,” Mr. Josephs informs.
In the meantime, he indicated that the organisation is looking at supporting a similar community project in Clarendon.
“We …will be looking at it (project) to ensure that it meets our criteria and to see how we can proceed,” he tells JIS News.

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