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  • Approximately 150 pupils of Union Gardens and its environs, in South West St. Andrew, will have a newly built infant school, when the 2015/16 academic year begins in September.
  • Construction of the institution, the Union Gardens Infant School, which commenced in March 2015, is being built at a cost of $186 million.
  • The institution will accommodate infants, aged three and half to five years, with a bus being assigned to shuttle the children to and from school, at no cost to their parents.

Approximately 150 pupils of Union Gardens and its environs, in South West St. Andrew, will have a newly built infant school, when the 2015/16 academic year begins in September.

Construction of the institution, the Union Gardens Infant School, which commenced in March 2015, is being built at a cost of $186 million.

The facility, development of which is being spearheaded by the Union Gardens Foundation, will, on completion, have a spacious auditorium and classrooms; covered walkway-linked buildings with play areas; and landscaped common areas, among other features.

The institution will accommodate infants, aged three and half to five years, with a bus being assigned to shuttle the children to and from school, at no cost to their parents.

The new basic school is the result of an amalgamation of similar institutions in Union Gardens and neighbouring communities, which were deemed under-resourced, both in relation to equipment and trained staff.

Prime Minister and Member of Parliament, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, who toured the project site on Friday, August 28, lauded the efforts of the Foundation, chaired by businessman and philanthropist Glen Christian, in seeking to improve the learning environment for the youngsters.

“This school…could be an example for (the development of other) infant schools across Jamaica, (in) making the necessary provisions for the children, and the environment to provide better learning capacity,” she said,

The Prime Minister reminded parents that proper supervision of their children is critical in ensuring they realize their full academic potential.

“Even if you cannot read or write, let them come…and sit in front of you and do their homework and read their books…(also) let them read to you…” she added.

 

Mrs. Simpson Miller also encouraged a rekindling of the community spirit of earlier years, when adults undertook responsibility for safeguarding the welfare of all children.

Additionally, she said “parents must begin to pass on good values and attitudes to their children; I beg of you parents…that you start them right. If you start them right, you will make them bright.”

Education Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, who accompanied the Prime Minister, thanked the participating partners for their inputs, which, he said, complement the Ministry’s undertaking to enhance the children’s learning capabilities, and working environment for the staff.

Rev. Thwaites underscored the importance of early childhood education, describing it as a pivotal element of the wider education sector that must be preserved.

“Education is the hub of development. Nothing of the growth agenda, nothing of the efforts to bring a reduction in crime is going to work unless we have an educated population, (who are also) socially adept and spiritually conscious,” he said.

For his part, Mr. Christian advised that another phase of the project is scheduled to start soon.

Commitments in cash and kind for the project have, thus far, been provided by the Cari-Med and Kirk Distributors Foundation; Tank-Weld Group; National Baking Company Foundation; Seprod Limited; Sandals Foundations; Kingston Wharves Limited; Stewart Industrial; Advanced Integrated Systems (AIS); Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS); BH Paints; Gleaner Company Limited; and Food for the Poor.

Public sector partners include: the Ministry of Education; Culture, Health, Arts, Sports, and Education (CHASE) Fund; and Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF).

The Union Gardens Foundation was established in 2014 to guide development of the Union Gardens Infant School project, and is a registered charitable organisation under the 2013 Charities Act.

 

The Foundation is a coalition of private and public sector leaders who share a vision of transforming the face of early childhood education in Jamaica.

The other directors include: Gary ‘Butch’ Hendrickson; Melanie Subratie; Howard Mitchell; and Simone Murdock.