JIS News

One hundred and seventy nine basic schools across the island will benefit under the Jamaica Public Service Company’s (JPSCo) nutritional support programme for early childhood institutions.
The company sealed its commitment on Wednesday (March 10) when it handed over a cheque in the sum of $2.5 million to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston.
Speaking at the handing over ceremony, Minister of Education, Youth and Culture, Maxine Henry Wilson welcomed the partnership, pointing out that “good nutrition is really what provides children with the ability to learn. Parents want their children to go to school.getting them into an environment that enhances and enriches their skills are important”. She informed that of the 198 basic schools in the education system, the Ministry’s school feeding programme covered some 96 per cent.
Minister Henry Wilson stated that education was the ‘ultimate saviour’ for the nation and that companies like the JPSCo. allowed the state to be able to provide the extra thrust that was needed for the education system.
She noted that the Ministry was now introducing world-class standards and procedures in early childhood institutions to ensure best practices. A model basic school programme is also being introduced where special formats for areas such as the physical facilities and the curricula are infused into the system.
Mrs. Henry Wilson informed that last year, government spent nearly $1 billion on early childhood education, “a worthwhile and important investment on behalf of our children”.
“It is not only a responsibility for government. Our children are our national assets. They are not the men and women of tomorrow, they are the people of today and they are setting the pace in many ways and we have to care about how we grow them,” she further stated.
The Education Minister used the opportunity to urge basic schools to access the CHASE fund, as she said there were not enough appropriate applications being submitted.
Also lauding the partnership, JPSCo. President and Chief Executive Officer Charles Mathews agreed that a balanced diet was a precondition for good academic performance. “Well nurtured children are likely to have fewer illnesses and their prospects for performing well in school are significantly improved,” he said.
He further pointed out that research by the Jamaica Coalition on the Rights of the Child had shown that inability of families to provide funds for lunch had contributed to absenteeism, which in some schools was as high as 40 per cent.
The JPSCo. partnership with the Ministry is part of a larger education outreach programme, which, for the past three years has focused on the provision of books, scholarships, computers, and furniture. In 2001 the JPSCo. expended $2 million on educational causes across the island. The company donated $750,000 to replenish the book stock for children who had lost their books as a result of flood rains in the parish of St. Mary that year, and in St.
Elizabeth, some $350,000 was spent on books for children in that parish who had also suffered the effects of the floods.
In 2002, the company spent $170,000 to supply basic schools across the island with refurbished computers. The JPSCo. also donated $1.2 million worth of used furniture to basic schools across the island.

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