KINGSTON — Following $39 million of repairs, an upgraded Norman Gardens Primary and Junior High school in East Kingston was officially handed back at a ceremony on Thursday (November 3).
The school, which has a student roll of 682 and 37 teachers, suffered severe damage from hurricanes Gilbert (1988), Ivan (2004), Dean (2007) and most recently Tropical Storm Gustav (2008), to its roof and other infrastructure causing grave inconvenience, especially during rainfall.
Completed eight weeks ahead of schedule, the upgrading fell under JSIF’s Tropical Storm Gustav Recovery Grant, funded by the European Union (EU) and administered by the World Bank, and involving rehabilitation of 10 schools and two health centres, including the Glen Vincent Health Centre, which was also handed over on Thursday
Undertaken at a cost of $39 million, the works included rehabilitation of the roof and ceiling; construction of a guidance counsel block; electrical works; repairs to windows and doors; drainage improvement; repairs to bathrooms and associated plumbing works.
Other works entailed painting of the school; provision of school equipment, a stove and a refrigerator; rehabilitation of green areas; construction of solid waste disposal bins; and rehabilitation of the multipurpose court. The project also involved capacity building in disaster reduction and maintenance training, which will assist in improving resilience to natural disasters.
Managing Director of JSIF, Scarlette Gillings, said that the project, a critical part of the Government’s programme to provide infrastructural development to communities considered underserved, will benefit the students and teachers, as well as residents who seek shelter there during emergencies.
“This investment in education at the school is intended to create new conditions under which the school, and indeed the entire community, can thrive,” she said, adding that to date, roughly two thirds of JSIF’s investments have gone into education.
"We feel, if you are going to be called a poverty reduction programme, this is where you must invest, in education,” she said.
Outgoing Head of the EU Delegation in Jamaica, Ambassador Marco Mazzocchi Alemanni, said he was particularly keen on assisting communities significantly affected by crime.
"This is why I pushed for the Tropical Gustav project to take place in volatile communities, such as this one,” he said.
In welcoming the intervention, the school’s Principal, Winston Pratt, said the project has transformed the plant, and has “raised the self esteem of the Norman Gardens family to its highest point in a long time”.
"We will do our best to transform the teaching/learning process (as well),” he added.
Board Chairman, Leroy Gayle, was also appreciative of the work done, noting that the project represented the single largest investment in the school since its inception.
Member of Parliament for East Kingston and Port Royal, Phillip Paulwell, Regional Director, Ministry of Education, Elaine Roulston, Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Caretaker for East Kingston and Port Royal, Peter Sangster, Councillor for the Norman Gardens Division, Angella Brown-Burke and World Bank Country Representative, Giorgio Valentini, also brought greetings.
General Manager of Grace Kennedy Limited, Robert Walker, a past student of the school, was the guest speaker.
There will be a six months defect period, to allow for the resolution of any problems that may have been encountered during the course of the project.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter