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JIS News

Newly upgraded schools, the DRB Grant Basic School, in Montego Bay, St. James and the Yallahs Basic School in St. Thomas, along with adjoining resource centres, will be opened in September, under the Ministry of Education and Youth’s Enhancement of Basic Schools Project (EBSP).
The EBSP is responsible for improving the quality of early childhood education in Jamaica, through various intervention projects, to include the training of teachers, and the establishment of ‘model’ basic schools and resource centres in all parishes.
Speaking to JIS News, Freda Thomas, Education Community Activities Officer for the EBSP, said that the rehabilitation and construction of the ‘model’ basic schools and resource centres was part of the Ministry’s thrust to transform and the education sector in Jamaica.
She informed that the EBSP is currently rehabilitating and constructing 12 ‘model’ basic schools and 11 resource centres in all parishes, except Portland (which will be financed by the CHASE Fund), in keeping with the regulation and standards which emanated from the 2005 Early Childhood Act.
Some of the standards which early childhood institutions must adhere to, once the Act comes into effect, include having suitable learning programmes; safe and adequate play areas; fire safety plans; secured premises; trained teachers and caregivers; healthy nutrition programmes; proper sanitation; proper administrative files, and health records for the children.
“We are building and rehabilitating ‘model’ basic schools in order to demonstrate how these standards can be implemented and these ‘model schools’ take on a little more than the minimum standards outlined,” she noted.
“We are also building these schools in order to support the training of early childhood practitioners as we need the appropriate environment in which people can learn the skills and practise the profession,” she added.
The DRB Grant Basic School is being rehabilitated and its resource centre constructed, at a cost of $30 million. The school has a total of seven classrooms, and will accommodate 140 children.
The six-classroom block at Yallahs Basic School and its adjoining resource centre are being upgraded at a cost of $40 million. The school will accommodate a maximum of 130 children.
Mrs. Thomas informed that in addition to providing information to teachers about developments in the early childhood sector, the centres would facilitate the training of practitioners, provide skills training for parents, as well as parenting information.
“The upgrading of resource centres is an additional component (to the project), and focus on providing teaching and learning materials.but a very important aspect of the centre is the parenting component, because improvement in early childhood education cannot happen without parent involvement,” she stressed.
The EBSP is being funded by the Government of Jamaica and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), at a cost of US$15 million.
An estimated US$1million has already been spent on the project to include the upgrading and construction of schools and resource centres, facilitating the training of teachers and caregivers, and procuring equipment and furniture.
The Hope Village Demonstration Basic School in Manchester, which was opened in April this year, was the first to be completed under the project.
Operations Officer in the Social Sector Division, at the CDB, D. Marcellus Albertin, on touring Hope Village recently, said that he was pleased with the project, noting that the work undertaken was in keeping with the requirements of the CDB.
“I am pleased with the work that was done by the contractors.and there are only a few areas that we need to sharpen on (to include the establishment of two ramps),” he said.
In the meantime, the EBSP, in collaboration with the Dudley Grant Trust, has also facilitated the training of some 680 early childhood education practitioners, who gained the HEART Trust/NTA level two certification in early childhood development. Of that number, 400 persons received funding through the project, while the remainder received funding through the Trust.
In addition, seven early childhood education officers were recently trained in the area of Technology in Early Childhood Development in Canada, and will in turn facilitate the training of other education officers and practitioners.