Some $182 million has been allocated for the construction of water bound sanitary facilities in some 26 schools across the island.
The funds have been set aside under Phase I of the Replacement of Pit Latrines in Schools Programme, which is being supported by the government, in partnership with the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund, the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), and the Petro-Caribe Development Fund.
This was disclosed by Education Minister, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites, at a press briefing on July 23, at Jamaica House, in Kingston.
The Minister noted that it is a priority of the government to replace all pit latrine facilities in schools across the island over the next three years. "There are over 200 schools in Jamaica that still have pit latrines," he reported.
An additional two schools have been identified by CHASE for the construction of water bound sanitary facilities, while other schools, which require repairs to sanitary facilities and general repairs will be supported by the Ministry, National Works Agency (NWA), parish councils and community-based organizations, such as parent teacher’s associations (PTAs). The Minister also encouraged school communities to seek local partners in this venture.
Rev. Thwaites pointed out that there is a particular difficulty for some schools in rural areas that do not have a public water supply system. "However, where tanks and other devices can help to make water sanitary facilities possible, we are insistent that this should be the case," the Minister said.
In the meantime, Rev. Thwaites said the Ministry is also working to improve the partitions in single room primary schools across the island. This, he said, will be done under a Partition Project, which will begin in August.
The programme is a joint venture between the HEART Trust/NTA, which will supply the labour force, and the Ministry, which will provide the necessary material.
"We will start modestly with one primary school in each region, and then try and extend it," Rev. Thwaites said.