Approximately 108 students and six teachers of the Tower Hill Missionary Early Childhood Institution, in Kingston, are now enjoying newly upgraded facilities at their school, completed at a cost of some $29.5 million.
The project was spearheaded by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), with funding from the European Union, under Government of Jamaica’s Poverty Reduction Programme (PRP).
Beneficiaries, including primary aged children who are enrolled in a homework programme offered by the school, as well as elderly residents, whose meals are prepared at the canteen, joined parents and other invited guests at the official handing over ceremony on Tuesday, March 26, at the institution.
Addressing the ceremony, Managing Director of JSIF, Scarlette Gillings, said the physical condition of the school was in a bad way and so her organisation assisted by undertaking the necessary improvement works.
Mrs. Gillings congratulated the community for contributing 25 per cent of the project cost amounting to some $9.95 million.
“This is very important, because this was done through discounted labour, so everybody made their contribution,” she said.
Among the work undertaken was the removal and replacement of two roofs; installation of new sanitary fixtures; installation of fencing; equipping of classrooms and provision of play equipment; installation of new cupboards and kitchen fixtures; and construction of a play area.
The JSIF Managing Director also pledged her agency’s support in training a newly installed maintenance committee, on how to care for the facility.
In the meantime, Charges d’ Affaires of the European Union delegation to Jamaica, Jesús Báguena, noted that the Tower Hill Missionary Early Childhood Institution is one of 33 schools which have received or are in the process of receiving support under the Poverty Reduction Programme.
“The rehabilitation work at the Tower Hill Missionary Early Childhood Institution is now finished, but the work of educating the children of the community and by extension the children of Jamaica continues,” he said.
“I encourage you to remain committed to this cause, remembering always that your children are the real ‘wealth’ of Jamaica and your continued investment in their education, will not only lead to long lasting benefits and improvements in their lives, but will contribute to development in the wider Jamaican society,” Mr. Báguena said.
He suggested that the school give some thought to extending the use of the facilities, by providing some skills training for the residents.
Guest Speaker, former Children’s Advocate, Mary Clarke, urged the children and community members to take care of the school plant. She also challenged the parents to help the children “to learn, to attend school, to be punctual, to obey the school rules and their teachers.”
Mrs. Clarke reminded parents that they are the first teachers and urged them to recognize their responsibility as partners in their children’s education.
In the meantime, Principal Donna Hastings, expressed gratitude on behalf of the school to the EU, JSIF and the Government for the upgraded facilities. She also thanked the Tower Hill Missionary Church for accommodating the school during the period of refurbishment.
Also participating in the handing over ceremony was a delighted 90 year-old Evelyn Pusey, who founded the school over 50 years ago.
By Andrea Braham, JIS Reporter