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JIS News

The Secondary Schools Enhancement Programme (SSEP) has so far disbursed grants totaling $95 million to 38 upgraded schools for the 2007/2008 school year.
This, according to Salomie Evering, Ministry of Education spokesperson. Mrs. Evering told JIS News that the amount ranges from two ($2M) to four million ($4M) per school, with the exception of one school that requested $250,000 and was given $500,000.
Funds from the Programme go towards improving laboratories and the classroom environment as well as purchasing equipment and materials, Mrs. Evering explained. “And it’s really to enhance the teaching and learning process, and ultimately raise the performance levels of students,” she added.
She noted that there has been a marked improvement in the performance levels of schools whose facilities have undergone upgrading. “So far, based on what we are seeing, and even based on the CSEC (Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate) results, the schools have been improving tremendously,” she observed. Mrs. Evering added that the programme’s emphasis on development in the areas of literacy and numeracy, science education, information technology, cultural studies, library development, and the overall school improvement planning, has contributed to these enhanced performance levels.
She informed that the funding is only made available after required procedures are followed. Each of the Ministry’s education regions start the process by submitting recommendations for certain amount of funds to be allocated to a school to carry out upgrading work based on identified needs.
After this the SSEP Committee invites the school to create its School Improvement Plan, which should show how the institution plans to utilize the funds.
Following the award of the grants, recipients are monitored. “We have a monthly meeting, so we look at how they have been doing; we have visits to the school, talk to teachers, talk to students,” Mrs. Evering explained.
The 2007/2008 allocations are disbursed to all schools that have never received funds, including those that are new and upgraded. Some schools that have received funds before are also among this year’s beneficiaries. She noted that schools can access more funding where additional upgrading is necessary, reiterating that the Ministry’s focus is on achieving parity between the new and upgraded secondary schools, and traditional high schools. “Remember, we’re focusing on access and equity, so we are still working on raising the levels,” she added.
With regards to the amount allocated, Mrs. Evering noted that there is no ceiling but schools with the most critical needs are usually given priority and assisted accordingly. “This school might be in a worst condition than others, so we put those first, but we’re working on all schools,” she added.
She lauded the insistence of the Government that all schools be brought to the same level, thus enabling parents to have choices, without worrying that one school may be better than another.
In Region one, (Kingston, St. Andrew and parts of St. Thomas) six schools, among them Vauxhall High and Pembroke Hall High, received grants totaling $13 million. Allocations ranged from $2 million to $2.5 million.
Five schools in Region Two (Portland and parts of St. Mary) were awarded a total of $10.5 million, with four schools, among them Buff Bay High and Paul Bogle High, receiving $2 million each. Meanwhile, St. Mary High received $2.5 million.
Two of the four Region Three (Trelawny, St, Ann and parts of St. Mary) schools, that is, Brimmer Vale High and Holland High were awarded $3 million while the others received an allocation of $2 million, bringing the amount to $10 million. In Region Four (St. James, Hanover, Westmoreland), eight schools were awarded funds of $22.5 million. Four new high schools in this Region: Green Pond High, Hopewell High, Irwin High, Rhodes Hall High and Spot Valley High were each granted $3 million.
Seven schools from Region Five (St. Elizabeth, Manchester) have received allocations totaling $14.5 million while $24.5 has been disbursed to eight Region Six (Clarendon, St. Catherine) schools, with allocations ranging from $3 million to $3.5 million.
The SSEP was implemented in 2001 to address the issues of equity and access in new and upgraded secondary schools.