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Education and Youth Minister, Maxine Henry Wilson, said today (April 28) that there would be no shift system in the eight new schools being constructed under the Ministry’s Schools Building and Expansion Programme.
“We have determined that while we cannot get rid of the shift system all at once, because of the number of spaces that we have, all new facilities will not be on the shift system,” Minister Henry Wilson informed, as she delivered the keynote address at the re-launch of the Ministry’s Schools Building and Expansion Programme at the Courtleigh Hotel.
The $2.6 billion programme, which forms part of the Ministry’s Education Transformation project, will see the construction of eight schools while 11 institutions will be upgraded. The 19 institutions will create a total of 14,000 new places.
Minister Henry Wilson noted that the new schools being built would represent model institutions in the education system.
“We are trying to develop models of schools. for a first class education system both in terms of the structure of the school and in terms of the content of the structure of the school, so you have all of the supportive infrastructure to ensure that our children are exposed to modern methods of teaching and learning,” she remarked.
The Education Minister noted that a key factor that would be integrated into the process to create model schools, was the provision of stimulation that would allow students to become better problem solvers, and to be able to work independently, or in a group.
“So, the way in which our classrooms are constructed and the way in which our support facilities like laboratories, reading rooms, multi-purpose rooms, sports facilities, and auditoriums [are constructed], all of these are part of the model facilities we are trying to create,” she informed.
In the meantime, the Education Minister said that the Ministry was examining alternative ways of providing classroom space, to meet needs within the next two to three years. “We will have to look at other ways of packaging the provision of school spaces. We will be working with NIBJ (National Investment Bank of Jamaica) to see how we can bring some private sector initiatives as well as private sector resources into the provision of school spaces on a timely basis,” she informed.
On another matter, Minister Henry Wilson announced that a working group of the National Parent Teachers Association would be launched within the next few weeks. The group, she said, would embark on a registration drive where it would garner support and ascertain the number of active and dormant associations.
She said the fledgling association would lead the charge to ensure that parents were an integral part of their children’s education as well as the education system.
Two contracts were signed this morning for the construction of the Discovery Bay High School in St. Ann and Mandeville High School in Manchester. The contract for the former school was awarded to Apec Consultants Limited, while the latter contract was awarded to Michael Lake and Associates.
According to Lauriston Wilson, Director of Project Management and Technical Services in the Ministry, the contracts for the remaining six schools would be signed by next week.
The Ministry has previously constructed 11 schools under the North West Jamaica Schools Project as well as carried out improvement works under the Schools Building and Expansion Programme.