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Story Highlights

  • Major upgrading works have been carried out at the St. Michael’s Infant School in Southside, Central Kingston, at a cost of $21.5 million.
  • The project was undertaken by the Government, in partnership with the European Union’s Poverty Reduction Programme (II), and implemented by JSIF.
  • A school vegetable garden was created to supplement the school’s food bill and add another dimension to the student’s learning experience.

Major upgrading works have been carried out at the St. Michael’s Infant School in Southside, Central Kingston, at a cost of $21.5 million, providing the 30 students and three teachers at the institution with a more conducive learning and teaching environment.

The project was undertaken by the Government, in partnership with the European Union’s Poverty Reduction Programme (II), and implemented by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF).

The scope of the works included the supply and installation of roofing; erection of drywall partitioning; supply and installation of windows and doors; supply and installation of upgraded and age-appropriate sanitary fixtures; upgrading of electrical works; general painting of the building; construction of a play area; upgrading of sewer system; construction of boundary walls; and tiling of sections of the floors and walls.

Also included was the creation of a school vegetable garden to supplement the school’s food bill and add another dimension to the student’s learning experience.

Speaking at the handing over ceremony, held on the school grounds in Central Kingston, on December 5, Minister of Education and Member of Parliament for the area, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, thanked the EU and the JSIF for their contribution to education through the project, noting that it is in line with the Ministry’s plan for the sector.

Rev. Thwaites said the rehabilitation work is welcomed, as early childhood education is the most important aspect of a child’s learning experience. “If you have a good foundation in infant school, you are going to do well in primary school, on to high school and you will do well at university as well,” he added.

Meanwhile, Managing Director, JSIF, Scarlette Gillings, noted that the Government and its partners, such as the EU, continue to place much emphasis on the development of education in the country, pointing out that one-third of JSIF’s funds is spent for the upgrading, rehabilitation and construction of early childhood and primary schools.

“Specifically, the Poverty Reduction Programme (PRP) has upgraded over 14 schools at the primary and early childhood levels in the last two years,” she informed.

For her part, Head of Delegation of the European Union to Jamaica, Ambassador Paola Amadei, pointed out that the EU is the largest grant donor to education in the country, contributing over $772 million to the sector.

“These sums are grant assistance, which do not have to be repaid and do not add to the debt burden of the country,” she pointed put.

Ms. Amadei stated that the rehabilitation of St. Michael’s brings to 33 the number of educational institutions that have received funding through the EU’s PRP support in Jamaica.

“While the poverty reduction programme is not designed to focus primarily on education, the number of schools rehabilitated and expanded under the programme is an indication of the importance of education as an instrument of social change,” she said.

Acting Principal of the school, Deverlyn Wilks-Kennedy, expressed gratitude to the Government, the EU and JSIF for the upgrading works done at the school.

Mrs. Wilks-Kennedy said she has been “moved to tears” to see how the children have been excited and appreciative of their new school building.

“Words alone cannot express our gratitude. You have positively impacted these little children,” she added, and encouraged community members to “partner with us and take care of the school.”