- The project, being undertaken at a cost of $25 million.
- It entails construction of eight classrooms, an administrative area, bathrooms, kitchen, dining area, therapy room, caretaker’s quarters, play area, perimeter fence, multi-purpose room, principal’s office, among other things.
- Since its inception in 1975, the programme has benefitted approximately 20,000 children across the island with various types of disabilities.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Security has partnered with Digicel Foundation to expand the Early Stimulation Programme (ESP), which caters to children with disabilities.
The project, being undertaken at a cost of $25 million, entails construction of eight classrooms, an administrative area, bathrooms, kitchen, dining area, therapy room, caretaker’s quarters, play area, perimeter fence, multi-purpose room, principal’s office, among other things. It is expected to be completed by March 2014 and will facilitate a 40 per cent increase in students benefiting under the programme.
During the construction phase, Digicel will provide temporary facilities at Early Stimulation Plus, located at 1a Ostend Close, to accommodate the children.
Speaking at the official signing ceremony at Digicel’s headquarters in downtown Kingston on October 23, Labour Minister, Hon. Derrick Kellier, said the partnership highlights the ongoing commitment of the Government in ensuring that all Jamaicans, including the most vulnerable, are given a fair chance to having an improved quality of life.
He informed that this year, the Government has strengthened its focus on programmes targeted at persons with disabilities through an injection of funding from international development partners including the Japanese Government, the Inter American Development Bank (IDB) and the World Bank.
Mr. Kellier said that under the IDB-funded Integrated Social Protection and Labour Programme, $1 million has been committed to improving the services offered through the ESP. “This will allow for infrastructure improvement to the ESP Assessment Centre at Hanover Street and the ESP Stimulation Plus Early Childhood Centre,” he noted.
He informed further that the Social and Economic Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities project, funded by the Japanese Government and the World Bank to the tune of US$2.9 million, will facilitate the training and employment of persons with disabilities who are benefiting under the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH).
Mr. Kellier added that it will also assist in services offered by the ESP through the provision of equipment and adaptive aids, building the capacity of staff, and providing support to parents and caregivers.
In her remarks, Executive Director, Digicel Foundation, Samantha Chantrelle, said the organisation is committed to equipping the school with the best facilities possible. “We’re going to make it one of those schools in Jamaica that every child would want to go to, that’s our aim,” she stated.
She informed that since the start of the year, the Foundation has committed over $100 million to special needs services in the island.
The ESP, inclusive of Early Stimulation Plus, is an agency of the Ministry of Labour that has been catering to the needs of disabled children and their families for over 30 years.
Since its inception in 1975, the programme has benefitted approximately 20,000 children across the island with various types of disabilities. Currently, the programme offers centre and community-based services to over 1, 241 children.