JIS News

The 1, 200-space Steer Town High School in St. Ann will be ready to accommodate students for the start of the new academic year on September 3.

Chief Executive Officer of the National Education Trust (NET), Paul Matalon, gave the assurance as he addressed a recent Think Tank at the Half-Way Tree Road offices of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS).

The NET took over construction of the school on which work originally started in October 2008. The initial contract sum was $484 million.

The new school boasts 21 classrooms, 17 laboratories, an auditorium, a 60-student capacity library, multi-purpose hard court, playing field, wheelchair ramps, and other conveniences for children with special needs. The design takes into consideration, safety and security issues. 

With the completion, Mr. Matalon said the Government will be able to take the Marcus Garvey High School in the parish off the shift system come September. This, as Marcus Garvey will take over the Mansfied Heights school plant in Ocho Rios, which has been accommodating students from Steer Town, while the school was being built.

Principal of Marcus Garvey, Leslie Riley, informed last week that grades seven and eight students will be accommodated at the Mansfied Heights facility, while grades nine to 11 students will attend the main campus in St. Ann's Bay.

The NET, established in 2010, is a Government of Jamaica company, charged with working with the private sector and non-government organisations to raise funds for the development and maintenance of education infrastructure. The aim is to eliminate the school space deficit at the primary and secondary levels and facilitate removal of the shift system.

Mr. Matalon noted a number of successes under the programme to date. He said that in addition to Steer Town High, the Trust also took over completion of the Belfield Primary School in Manchester and is in the process of building Cedar Grove High in Gregory Park, St. Catherine.  

"It's (Cedar Grove) another 1, 200-student school, and should be finished for September next year," he informed.

Mr. Matalon said that one of the goals of the NET is to provide the spaces to bring the teacher/student ratio down to internationally acceptable norms.

"Not only are we going to build new schools, but we are going to build additional classrooms in areas where they can be accommodated. We'll be able to add classrooms to that infrastructure where applicable," he stated.

The Trust acts as an agency through which Government can execute its strategic objectives of developing the education infrastructure without fiscal constraints; direct and co-ordinate non financial resources such as volunteers, donated equipment, material and technology; interface with international funding organisations on educational infrastructure development projects; and provide a credible institutional framework for accountability and effective use of donated funds.