The community of Long Hill and surrounding areas in Westmoreland now have a new school with modern facilities to serve children at the early childhood level.
The King's Infant School, another project under Food for the Poor's (FFP) Jamaica 50 Campaign, was officially opened on Tuesday (Sept. 25). It replaces the Long Hill Basic School, which operated out of the King’s Primary School.
The institution, which has a 60-student capacity, boasts three classrooms, a sick bay, teachers’ office, and kitchen and bathroom facilities. It will also serve the communities of Whitehouse, Red Gate and Petersville.
Delivering the main address at the official opening ceremony, Legal Officer, Office of the Children’s Advocate, Shannon Hendricks, commended FFP for investing in the construction of basic schools. She noted that the early childhood level is the most crucial stage of development, "where the child's need for learning can be heightened and nurtured".
"It is therefore incumbent on all of us to guarantee our children child-friendly, child-centered institutions, which encourage them to learn and where very few if any structural or environmental barriers to learning exist," she stated.
"This gift of the infant school is important and revolutionary… and is a life-altering initiative, which creates the perfect preparatory environment for a child's journey to maximum growth and development", Ms. Hendricks added.
President of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA), Dr. Mark Nicely, also pointed to the importance of a solid early childhood education in laying the foundation for lifelong learning.
"Experts tell us…that some 90 per cent of all brain development occurs by the age of five… hence many of the problems we encounter with our children’s learning have their genesis due to a lack of good, solid early childhood education. It is easier for us to build strong children than to repair broken men and women," he stated.
Executive Director, FFP Canada, Samantha Mahfood, expressed appreciation to the St. Thomas King’s Anglican Church Diocese of Jamaica for donating the land on which the school was built and the ‘Helping Hands Jamaica/Canada Foundation’ for their assistance with the project.
King's Infant is the first school to be provided to the County of Cornwall under FFP's Jamaica 50 Campaign, aimed at building or upgrading 50 such institutions over a 50-month period. The initiative by the charity is to mark Jamaica's 50th anniversary of Independence this year.