JIS News

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  • Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, has renewed his call for more philanthropic groups and individuals to contribute to the continued growth and development of the country's education sector.
  • He noted that while the Government spends $80 billion annually or 30 per cent of the recurrent budget on education, "that is not enough; we need much more money, also more commitment."
  • The Education Minister was addressing the official opening of 'The Douglas Orane Auditorium' on the grounds of the Wolmer's Boys School in Kingston on Friday (October 2).

Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, has renewed his call for more philanthropic groups and individuals to contribute to the continued growth and development of the country’s education sector.

He noted that while the Government spends $80 billion annually or 30 per cent of the recurrent budget on education, “that is not enough; we need much more money, also more commitment, more mentors, more guidance for all of our students, particularly in the face of weak social fabric and inadequate family structures.”

The Education Minister was addressing the official opening of ‘The Douglas Orane Auditorium’ on the grounds of the Wolmer’s Boys School in Kingston on Friday (October 2).

He noted that alumni groups are well positioned to initiate this philanthropic wave, and commended those who have played their part in advancing educational opportunities in the country.

“Nothing is going to work in Jamaica, unless we produce sound educational outcomes, not just for a few, but for everyone,” he said, noting that there is a place in high school for every Jamaican child.

The new state of-the-art auditorium, which bears the name of the outstanding Jamaican and Wolmer’s past student, was built at a cost of  $171 million, through support from the local and international alumni communities, parents, corporate Jamaica, trustees, and friends of Wolmer’s.

It will serve the needs of the Wolmer’s Schools, including Wolmer’s Girls and Wolmer’s Preparatory. Its opening marks the culmination of activities for Wolmer’s  285th  anniversary in 2014.

Mr. Orane, who is Chair of the Wolmer’s Trust Infrastructure Committee, informed that over 1, 000 groups and individuals donated to the cause.

“It amazes me how, when we as Jamaicans get together, we can achieve anything we set our minds to,” he said, adding that he stands ready to share how such support can be mobilised for the development of other schools in the island.

Mr. Orane noted that the school has been without an auditorium for 24 years, and it is fulfilling to see the joy on the faces of the students at the opening of the facility.

He informed that over $11 million more is needed to complete outstanding works in and around the building.

During the ceremony, 16 persons were inducted into the Wolmer’s hall of fame, 14 of whom were posthumously recognised, and included headmasters and headmistresses of the Wolmer’s Schools as well as distinguished alumni.

These are: the Most Hon. Sir Florizel Glasspole, Sir John Mordecai, Amy Jacques Garvey, Sir Herbert MacDonald, Leila James Tomblinson, Ludlow Moody, Miriam Whylie Speid, May Jeffrey-Smith, Mary Cowper, Reginald Murray, Kate Howson, William Cowper, Maud Barrows, and the Reverend Ebenezer Reid.

The ‘living legends’ are: the Most Hon. Edward Seaga, and Sybil Francis.

The auditorium is large enough to hold up to 2, 300 people standing and 1,800 people sitting. The building is designed to be used not only for daily assembly but also for graduations, theatrical performances, and meetings.

It boasts two large seminar rooms, which can accommodate up to 60 people and will be used for teaching purposes, workshops, interactive discussion fora, meetings of teachers and other groups, and will also be available for rental.

Importantly, the auditorium is a green building. Rainwater harvested from the roof is stored in a 13,000-gallon underground tank, and used for irrigation purposes and flushing of toilets.  Solar panels, installed on the south facing roof, are expected to generate enough electricity to meet one third of the school’s energy needs.