Ministry Committed to Education for All


In keeping with the Government’s commitment to ensure that all Jamaicans have access to education, and that tuition would be free at the secondary level, parents who paid these fees before the administration came to power on September 11, began receiving their refunds in November.
Minister of Education, Andrew Holness had announced in the middle of September that all parents who had paid tuition fees prior to the election of the new administration, could collect their refunds until the deadline of December 19, after which the money would be given to the schools as part of their Development Fund. Speaking at a press briefing, following the swearing in of the new administration, the Minister explained that with this initiative, parents had no excuse not to send their children to school. He also urged parents, who were still having difficulties in doing so, to take advantage of the many assistance programmes in place.
Two new schools opened their doors at the beginning of the 2007/08 school term. These were Foga Road High School in Clarendon and Troy High School in Trelawny. In November, Minister Holness officially opened new classroom blocks at Cross Keys and Bishop Gibson High Schools in Manchester. The projects were completed at a combined cost of $40.5 million, under the Ministry’s Critically Needed Secondary School Spaces Programme.
To address the shortage of space in schools, Cabinet approved the award of four contracts valued at more than $538 million to carry out upgrading and expansion works on four schools in St. Thomas, Westmoreland and St. James. Meanwhile, a contract valued at some $198.5 million was awarded for the construction of a two-storey building to replace the Springfield Primary School in St. James.
The St. Thomas High School will also benefit from expansion works with the awarding of a contract in the sum of $19.8 million. A contract was also awarded for the construction of three new classrooms at the Morant Bay High School in St. Thomas at a cost of $15.7 million.
A contract valued at $31 million was also awarded for the supply of computer equipment and software to the Jamaica Library Service and another valued at $15 million was awarded for expansion works at the St. Ann Parish Library.
In October, the Education Minister announced that the majority of the 500 schools, which were damaged during the passage of Hurricane Dean in August, should be repaired by year end.
Most of the schools that were affected during the passage of the hurricane are located in Region Six, which comprises St. Elizabeth, Manchester, Clarendon and St. Catherine and the cost of repairs was estimated at $700 million.
To address the challenging issues of anti-social behaviour in the society, the Education Transformation Team officially launched its Citizenship Education Programme in late November.
The programme, which started in 120 primary and high schools, is part of the Behaviour Change and Community Work Stream, which seeks to address anti-social behaviour, disciplinary problems and attendance in schools, and foster increased stakeholder participation in education.
It will help to reduce indiscipline and inappropriate behaviour in schools; improve harmonious relations in entire school communities; and enhance relations between schools and the wider community.
While speaking at a Boys’ Day at St. Catherine High School, Minister Holness reiterated the government’s intent to enforce the law against delinquent parents who need to be more accountable for the way in which they looked after their children.
According to the Education Minister, poor parenting was causing a burden on schools and places a severe strain on resources. He also noted that they intend to hold fathers, in particular, accountable for the behaviour of their boys as the absence of the father in the household was probably the greatest contributing factor to the delinquency of boys.
Minister Holness announced that a Parent Support Commission would be established, which would liaise with substance abuse intervention institutions to provide information and support to parents whose children are victims of substance abuse.
The Minister said that the intervention was part of a new thrust of his Ministry to ease the stress on parents whose children are trapped by substance abuse and who need help in coping.
With respect to early childhood education, the Ministry began the compulsory registration of early childhood institutions on November 30, to regulate the sector.
The Education Minister explained that the exercise is aimed at ensuring that the standard of the institutions is raised to the point where, “we can be confident that we are delivering the service that our children need.”

JIS Social