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Story Highlights

  • Edith Dalton James High School in Western St. Andrew has begun to reap dividends from a major transformation programme, being carried out by the institution’s administration.
  • The programme aims to further boost the students’ academic performance in internal and external examinations, by creating a conducive teaching-learning environment.
  • Since its commencement in 2007, expenditure on the programme, which primarily entails infrastructural renovation and expansion, has totalled upwards of $50 million.

Edith Dalton James High School in Western St. Andrew has begun to reap dividends from a major transformation programme, being carried out by the institution’s administration.

The programme aims to further boost the students’ academic performance in internal and external examinations, by creating a conducive teaching-learning environment.

Since its commencement in 2007, expenditure on the programme, which primarily entails infrastructural renovation and expansion, has totalled upwards of $50 million. The expansion has involved construction of 20 classrooms, including five which were dedicated last week, along with a new library resource centre.

Principal, Ray Howell, who has been at the helm of the 37 year-old institution since 2006, says the programme’s ongoing implementation has contributed significantly to improving students’ performances in internal examinations, and recording impressive results in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) external examinations.

“Many of our students have attained 10 CSEC subjects. Students are (also) sitting CSEC at Grade 10 and have been successful in passing between one and five subjects. Our goal is that by 2015/16, all of our Grade 11 students will be sitting CSEC subjects, and we are expecting at least 60 per cent passing five, or more subjects,” the Principal informs.

Outlining details of the programme during the dedication ceremony at the school’s Duhaney Park campus, Mr. Howell said the upgrading included: expansion of the institution’s auditorium; the addition of 10 offices for Heads of Departments, Grade Coordinators, the Dean of Discipline, Guidance Counsellors, Examination Coordinators, and Ancillary Staff; as well as an Executive Board Room, which is also used for seminars, staff meetings, and internal and external conferences by other stakeholders.

“All areas of the school have been upgraded, including bathrooms, computer laboratories; the nurse’s station; and the cottage, which is used for Home Management. We have enhanced the comfort of staff and students, and have created a student/staff friendly environment by improving the ambience and safety of the school plant,” the Principal noted.

Another key input, which is expected to further consolidate the students’ academic outputs, is introduction of the extended day class format. This came into effect on September 1, and replaces the double shift system which had been instituted for 36 years.

With this extension, Mr. Howell said the students can now benefit from more teaching-learning contact time,  which should increase by 30 per cent.

He pointed out that apart from eight classrooms, construction of which was spearheaded by the Ministry of Education, all other activities were carried out by the school through “prudent management of our limited resources.”

“We are proud of our achievements…because we are adding value to every student who comes here. Our goal is that by the 2015/16 academic year, all of our Grade 11 students will be sitting CSEC subjects…and we are expecting at least 60 per cent passing five, or more subjects,” Mr. Howell said.

“We will also be allowing Grade Nine students to sit the Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence (CCSLC),” he added.

Mr. Howell said three additional major projects have been targeted for implementation, “to complete our development programme, over the next year or two.”

These include: a 100 Kilovolt (Kv) solar energy system, at an estimated cost of $25 million; construction of 10 additional classrooms at a cost of just over $40 million; and a rainwater harvesting system.

“We are committed to making Edith Dalton James High the school of choice for excellence in academics, sports, the arts, culture, innovation, and change…a place for the inculcation of positive values and attitudes, and where teaching and learning take place in comfortable surroundings and a conducive environment in which all stakeholders feel safe,” Mr. Howell said.

Meanwhile, Education Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, who was guest speaker at the ceremony, commended the school administration for its exemplary use of limited resources in implementing the programme so far.

“The school’s infrastructure compares with that of any other institution. I also commend you on the additional projects that you will undertake. I hope that you will be able to achieve all your ambitions in the near future, and the Ministry of Education will continue to honour its promise to assist you to ensure that you have the necessary facilities,” he said.

Commending the students on their improved academic performance, Rev. Thwaites told them that “you are in a good school…this is a good place, and it is going to be a better place as a result of the efforts of all those who have contributed to its advancement.”

In a message delivered by his Special Advisor, Kenyama Brown, Industry, Investment, and Commerce Minister, and Western St. Andrew Member of Parliament, Hon. Anthony Hylton, said the developments at Edith Dalton James High “bodes well for members of the constituency…as more students will be able to attend and utilize these new facilities…especially with the abolition of the shift system.”

“I, therefore, commend the Ministry and team at the Edith Dalton James High School for working together to make this possible. The very essence of this initiative gives impetus to my belief…that Edith Dalton James High is an integral component in the development of this constituency,” Mr. Hylton said.

In his remarks, Jamaica Teachers Association (JTA) President, Doran Dixon, lauded Mr. Howell and the school’s administration.  “It is good that schools, through the leadership of progressive Principals, have been able to do ‘self-help,’ to move their institutions forward,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the academic staff, Vice Principal, Angella Lafayette-Thompson, said they “have further pledged their commitment to improving the (academic performance and outputs) of the children who have been placed in our care.”

“Teachers and students, let us continue to work together to enhance the teaching and learning process,” she urged.

The school has a student enrollment of 1,233, comprising 640 males and 593 females, and a staff complement of 109, of whom 71 are teachers.

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