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Story Highlights

  • Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, on Thursday (May 14), broke ground for the construction of eight new classrooms at the Balaclava High School in St. Elizabeth.
  • On completion, the school will be renamed the Roger Clarke High School, in honour of the late Minister of Agriculture and former Member of Parliament for North East St. Elizabeth.
  • The project is estimated to cost $40 million and will be funded by a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The complex is expected to be completed by September of this year.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, on Thursday (May 14), broke ground for the construction of eight new classrooms at the Balaclava High School in St. Elizabeth.

On completion, the school will be renamed the Roger Clarke High School, in honour of the late Minister of Agriculture and former Member of Parliament for North East St. Elizabeth.

The project is estimated to cost $40 million and will be funded by a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The complex is expected to be completed by September of this year.

In her address at the ceremony, the Prime Minister expressed delight for the support given to the project by the IDB, which will result in the addition of 200 new classroom spaces.

Mrs. Simpson Miller said the provision of a comfortable teaching and learning environment will ensure that the students and teachers are able to function effectively.

“It is also a fact that the provision of a comfortable teaching and learning environment with adequate classroom spaces is needed to ensure success. The proper physical environment must be combined with proper teaching and learning technologies as vital ingredients for schools to attain the desired educational outcomes,” the Prime Minister emphasised.

She said the Government is committed to ensuring that Balaclava High receives the necessary tools in order for the teachers and students to do well, including the removal of the school from the shift system once the new building is completed.

“I hope that those who come through the gates of what will be known as the Roger Clarke High School will be inspired to serve and to give of their best. I want to support the suggestion that the Minister (of Education) made that we are to name blocks after the Principals that serve this institution. I believe in giving recognition to those who serve and give of their best and are still giving of their best,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said.

“My Government is committed to giving Balaclava High the necessary tools for you to do well. Numerous studies have shown that smaller class sizes allow for a better quality of education. Research also points to the ineffectiveness of the shift system, which remains a feature of the Balaclava High School. The shift system will be a thing of the past when we complete this new block of classrooms,” she added.

The Prime Minister said that education will open the doors to unlimited possibilities as it helps people to positively transform their lives and provide an opportunity for the creation of a stable and comfortable future.

She called on the students at the school to understand the role that a good education can play in their lives, despite where they are from.

“I want all the students here to understand that education can make you the Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Minister of Education, the Minister of Agriculture, the Minister of Health…any Minister,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said.

The Prime Minister pointed out that the addition of the new block of classrooms at Balaclava forms part of a multi-million dollar programme to be undertaken during this financial year to construct additional classroom spaces across Jamaica.

“Maggoty, Albert Town, Porus, Old Harbour, Papine, Vauxhall and Cedric Titus High Schools are just some of the other institutions that will benefit from this allocation,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said.

Balaclava High currently has more than 700 students on roll and an academic staff of 42, which is led by Principal, Paula Miller Foster.