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Story Highlights

  • Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller officially opened the Marlie Hill Infant School, built at a cost of approximately $24 million, on April 15.
  • The new school is a model against which all other infant schools in Jamaica can be benchmarked, but even more importantly, it is a legacy for the community.
  • The Ministry of Education has undertaken the integration of some basic schools into the infant department of primary schools, adding that this is the case with the Marlie Hill Infant and Primary School.

The Marlie Hill Infant School, built at a cost of approximately $24 million, was officially opened on April 15, in the deep rural St. Catherine community where Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, spent her early years.

Mrs. Simpson Miller, who was the keynote speaker at the opening, informed that the school was built by the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund and is one of nine schools designated as a Jamaica 50 Legacy Project.

She noted that the new school is a model against which all other infant schools in Jamaica can be benchmarked, but even more importantly, it is a legacy for the community.

“I return to these premises today of my many, many fond childhood memories, and I want to congratulate the efforts of all the persons who have contributed to the upgrading of the facilities of the Marlie Hill Infant School. By doing so, you have ensured that the school, which serves as a primary feeder institution for the Marlie Hill Primary, meets all the requirements of the Early Childhood Commission,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said.

She noted that their actions will ensure that the young ones leaving the pre-primary level are well prepared for success at the primary school and throughout the duration of their education and their development.

The school, which will house 35 students, has two new classrooms, a furnished kitchen with appliances, sanitary facilities, sick bay, an administrative block, play area and a 3,000 gallon water tank. It will also have play equipment, and other amenities to meet the requirements of the Early Childhood Commission (ECC).

Mrs. Simpson Miller reiterated her administration’s commitment to making early childhood education a priority area for policy action and funding.

“Our position on the reform of early childhood education remains rock solid and non-negotiable. Notwithstanding the serious resource constraints facing our country, no child must be left behind,” the Prime Minister emphasized.

She pointed out that the Ministry of Education has undertaken the integration of some basic schools into the infant department of primary schools, adding that this is the case with the Marlie Hill Infant and Primary School.

“It is my hope that this will enrich the learning and recreational experiences of all the children of the surrounding communities,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said.

She urged the residents to own, protect and preserve the school from any kind of vandalism.

In the meantime, CHASE’s Chief Executive Officer, W. ‘Billy’ Heaven, said four other basic schools have been completed so far under the Jamaica 50 Legacy Project and all the others are at a stage of practical completion.

He informed that the Marlie Hill Basic School now forms part of 750 projects, valued at $2.8 billion, that the CHASE Fund has provided financial support for over its 11 years of existence.

The CEO said he expects to see a high return on the $24 million investment from the children who attend the institution.

“It’s about the children who come here and the impact that it will create. So, we expect the children who attend this school to do well at all the other levels of the education system – primary school, high school and tertiary level. The return on investment will only be justified when you turn out students who perform well, who are disciplined, who respect others and contribute positively to the society,” Mr. Heaven said.