State-run oil refinery, Petrojam, has donated books worth just under $1 million to two Corporate Area schools – St. Andrew Primary and Greenwich All Age, both situated on Spanish Town Road.
Principals of both schools, Beverly Haase of St. Andrew Primary and Bryan Guscott of Greenwich All Age School, welcomed the donation of 1,120 workbooks by representatives of Petrojam, including General Manager, Winston Watson, during brief ceremonies.
The initiative is a Petrojam community outreach programme administered by a group of employees who raised a portion of the money for the books, which was matched by the company.
In an interview with JIS News, Mrs. Haase, said that she was “extremely grateful” for the books, in light of the financial challenges some parents experience in purchasing books and other educational materials for their children.
“There are quite a number of students without books so, by (Petrojam) donating books, it will assist the students; as we all know, a workman without his tools cannot function properly,” she remarked.
Pupils at St. Andrew Primary School (from left): Jermaine Lawrence, Ashley Anderson, Jael Nelson, and Kadane Simmonds (partly hidden), peruse the contents of one of the 560 Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) and Grade Four Literacy and Numeracy workbooks, which were donated to the institution recently, by the state-run oil refinery, Petrojam. The 560 books were part of 1,120, valued at just under $1 million, which Petrojam presented to St. Andrew Primary, and Greenwich All Age Schools, situated on Spanish Town Road, as part of the company’s community outreach programme.
St. Andrew Primary, which was established over 40 years ago, is adjacent to St. Andrew Technical High School at Bumper Hall. It has a student population of 542, comprising 296 boys and 246 girls. The pupils are drawn from adjacent communities, including Greenwich Town, Rose Town, Maxfield Avenue, Tivoli Gardens, Wilton Gardens (Rema) and Trench Town, as well as areas off the Mandela Highway. It has an academic staff of 19, inclusive of a guidance counsellor.
Mrs. Haase, a teacher for 27 years, has been Principal of the school since September 2005. She said that Petrojam’s donation was the first such received by the school from a corporate entity. She added that approximately 50 per cent of the pupils being prepared for the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) and the Grade Four Literacy and Numeracy Tests will benefit, directly.
She also pointed out that the school’s performance in GSAT has improved steadily over the years, noting that this year 30 pupils were successful. She expects that the books will go a far way in enhancing preparation of the candidates for upcoming examinations.
Mr. Guscott said the donation, while not being the first to his school, was the largest it has received to date.
“They have been assisting us in other ways, apart from books. For instance, they have a scholarship programme where they give scholarships to our top GSAT boy and girl each year. That scholarship is for five years at high school.so the tuition and books (are covered),” he explained. He said, however, that the support comes with a condition that the student maintains an average of B+, or thereabouts, for the scholarship to continue.
“The parents are very grateful, because that’s a very big help to them in (terms of) providing books and tuition,” he said.
Mr. Guscott, who has been Principal of Greenwich All Age for nearly two years, said the 70-year old institution, which is also situated on Spanish Town Road, has about 700 pupils enrolled, “with a regular attendance of about 590 to 600 students”, and an academic staff complement of 26.
Approximately 100 pupils, a combination of Grade Four and Six students, are expected to benefit directly from the donation, Mr. Guscott revealed.
“Grade Four students will be preparing for the Numeracy and Literacy Tests, and the Grade Six Students will be preparing for the GSAT examinations. So those two classes will benefit directly from this initiative,” he stated.
Mr. Guscott said Greenwich All Age has seen “marked improvement” in GSAT, particularly during the last academic year when it improved in all the areas.
“Our numeracy rate, cumulative average went up. Our literacy (rate), as well, went up. The top (performing) boy, last year, got 96 in mathematics (and) he had an (overall) average of about 90 per cent. The top girl, likewise, she got 11 out of 12 for her communication tasks, 90 per cent for mathematics, so it is on the upswing,” he related.
The school’s Grade Four Numeracy results have also shown improvement. Last year, it was at 34 per cent, this year it has jumped by 16 per cent to 50 per cent.
The students are from neighbouring and other communities including Greenwich Farm, Union Gardens, Two and Three Miles, Majestic Gardens, Maxfield Avenue, Waltham Park Road, Rose Town, Tivoli Gardens and downtown Kingston.
He noted that, in many instances, they do not have access to the material needed to advance their education and, in this regard, Petrojam’s donation will be pivotal in assisting them.
“This will put them in a very good position to perform better. So it is a very significant donation,” Mr. Guscott said.