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JIS News

Minister of Education and Youth, Maxine Henry Wilson, has informed that a space audit is currently being done in schools to assess and alleviate issues arising from the recent movement of persons into new communities, which is impacting the availability of spaces in schools.
This comes on the eve of her announcement that between this year and 2008, some 15,600 new spaces would be made available in schools.
The Minister, who was speaking at the official launch of the new school year at Excelsior High School on Mountain View Avenue, today (September 14), said that, “this number represents our best assessment at this time and will be subject to some change, based on demographic forecasts”.
Mrs. Henry Wilson told JIS News that “the purpose of the audit,” which would be complete in a month or two, “is to give us a better fix on what actually exists in terms of the quality of school infrastructure, including school spaces, school facilities and school populations”.
“The natural movement of persons has resulted [in overcrowding], in areas which we didn’t have space needs before, now providing us with significant challenges for new spaces,” she said. In tackling the space issue, the Minister said “we now need to go back to the drawing board in the area from Christiana [Manchester] right into Portmore [St. Catherine].
On other plans to mitigate overcrowding in schools, Mrs. Henry Wilson said the Ministry was not prepared to widely re-introduce a shift system, as this had not been the most successful option in the past, but noted that this option would be explored if schools were significantly hard-pressed for space.
“Where we have excess capacity and where we have overcrowding, it will help us to determine how we may be able to consolidate certain facilities and then have the other facilities used for other purposes,” the Minister told JIS News.
She emphasized that although much was being done to expedite the process to have the new spaces as soon as possible, “transformation is not a linear process, it is a complex and multi-dimensional one of action.it requires looking at the complementary activities that have to be considered together”.