JIS News

Scores of residents and other well-wishers from a number of parishes, turned out recently to witness the official opening and handing over ceremony of a new block of classrooms and computer laboratory at the Sandy Bank Primary School, which is situated in Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth.
The new block has been dubbed the “Cobb Building” in recognition of the tangible support given to the expansion effort by current American Ambassador to Jamaica, Sue Cobb and her husband, Charles.
BREDS-the Treasure Beach Foundation, headed by Hotelier Jason Henzell, was the local non-governmental organisation (NGO) that spearheaded the project.
Speaking at the ceremony, Charles E. Cobb said the project began because of the effort of current principal Norma Moxam and Mr. Henzell. He said, “when we made our first trip here about a year ago, Sue and I have been involved in lots of educational initiatives”.
Mr. Cobb explained that he met with the Board of BREDS and was encouraged by the commitment that the group made to the development of the school. He continued: “so Ambassador Sue and I made a simple commitment that we will put up half of the money but the community has to pick up the other half and whatever the community wants to build we will pay half of it.the community had to, through its own energy and passion, come up with its share, that’s how it started”.
He observed that the experience had been a very positive one for all the parties involved.
Mrs. Moxam, the Principal of Sandy Bank Primary, in her remarks, thanked the Ambassador and her husband, along with BREDS, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), US Peace Corps and all other persons who had helped to make her “dream come through”.
She said that the construction of the new block would not have been possible without help from her “American friends”.
The Principal also heaped praises on the residents of Treasure Beach for playing a pivotal role in the completion of the project.
The Ministry of Education was also lauded for the support it had given to the school, particularly for the new furniture it had procured for the institution.
“I wish to thank my immediate education officer, Mr. Burnett who got the chairs and desks for our students who will be occupying the new grades one and two classrooms,” she said.
Guest Speaker, Education, Youth and Culture Minister, Maxine Henry-Wilson, in her presentation, observed that it was wonderful for the entire community to have come together to assist the school.
“People have to have a common purpose and a common cause so as to work together for mutual benefit.I have to commend you for the tremendous effort and work, community means “all people having a common purpose”.education is not just the future but the present,” she said.
Minister Henry-Wilson pointed out that it was good to see that there were communities that were willing to take direct responsibility for their children at the entry point of their education journey.
“This administration believes that we need to focus more on our children especially at the basic school level, community members have to come together and ensure that our kids have the right start.government is responsible to set the framework, the community to demonstrate ownership of all basic schools, to set the standards and to make sure that the children are guided on the straight and narrow,” she said.
Chairman of BREDS, Jason Henzell, in his comments, said that his organisation had played a key role in a number of developmental projects in Treasure Beach.
“When we started our NGO over five years ago and we thought that our focus on education, sports and environmental awareness would be the right way to go.in the first year our projects included painting the post office, roadside and beach clean-ups and by year two, we constructed a new basketball court and sanitary facilities for Sandy Bank Basic School and adding two new classrooms to God’s school.to date we have donated over 50 computers to various schools within this area,” he pointed out.
Ambassador Cobb, in her remarks, thanked all the parties especially the volunteers and construction crew that had worked on the “very worthy effort”.
“We are very happy with this partnership as we believe that life is a team sport, you don’t get very far unless you have your team-mates around you.I see this community is really together and we hope it stays that way, support each other and not only will the children of Sandy Bank school be assets to Jamaica, my bet is that we are going to have a lot of Jamaican leaders coming from Treasure Beach,” she said.
Member of Parliament for the area, Water and Housing Minister, Donald Buchanan, in bringing greetings, stated that it was good to see the very strong partnership that had been established between the people of Treasure Beach and their friends from North America.
“I believe in the possibilities of the people of this country and I know if we work together we can become a greater people and the greatest little nation on earth, but we have to be prepared to make the sacrifice and commitment to love one another and to heed the biblical injunction, ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’.I believe that Jamaica is moving forward as is evident here today,” he said.

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