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JIS News

A contract valued at more than $22 million has been signed for the expansion of the Retreat Primary and Junior High School, in St. Mary.
It was signed yesterday (July 14), between the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) and Alfrasure Structures and Roofing Limited, at the school.
The project will be funded with a grant obtained under the European Union Banana Support Programme (EU-BSP) by the JSIF, aimed at improving access to social and economic infrastructure in rural traditional banana growing communities.
Under the project agreement, the JSIF will provide $19.95 million, while the school’s Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) will provide the remaining $2.19 million.
The project is expected to be completed within five months, and will involve the construction of five additional classrooms. When completed, the upgraded facility will improve the learning environment and make the over 950 students and 46 staff members more comfortable.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Local Government and Member of Parliament for the area, Hon. Robert Montague, said with the decline of the banana industry, the European Union has provided some funds to assist communities which were dependent on that industry.
The Minister stressed the importance of investing in the children’s education and congratulated the school’s PTA and the other stakeholders for partnering to make the project a reality. He also commended the EU and JSIF for assisting the school, and reminded the audience that “education is the poor man’s ladder to success.”
Meanwhile, the State Minister said other development plans for the parish include construction of a high school in Three Hills, St. Mary; the establishment of an extension campus of the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE) at the Annotto Bay High School by September this year, and the construction of four recording studious in the communities of Gayle, Windsor Castle, Oracabessa and Three Hills.
In her address, General Manager of Human Resource and Administration at the JSIF, Rhonda Lumsden-Lue said that in addition to the construction of five classrooms, the Fund will also be assisting the school to create income generating projects, which will enable the institution to become more self-sufficient.
The students will receive training in product development and marketing, and the Home Economics Department will be equipped to utilise the harvested products of the existing school farm.
Acting Principal of the school, Jacinth Haldane thanked the EU and JSIF for making the expansion project a reality. “The teachers and students are going to be extremely grateful for more space,” she said.
Also addressing the function were Territorial Education Officer at the Ministry of Education, Dawn Gilmore; Social Development Commission Parish Manager for St. Mary, Jeanette Rose Bryan; Rural Development Officer at the EU-BSP, Everton Parkes; School Board Chairman, Pixley Irons, and Councillor for the Retreat Division, . Murdel McKenzie Rattigan.