Sat | Oct 21, 2017

Diaspora Conference | Reid backs Diaspora in public-private alliance on early childhood education

Published:Friday | July 28, 2017 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke
Tevin Carr (foreground) showing off his skills at making a corned beef sandwich to Ruel Reid (left), minister of education; Keisha Cordoza (second left), marketing manager, Kirk Distributors; Gail Dunwell, an overseas donor consultant; and Conrad Ingram, professor of chemistry at Clark Atlanta University in the United States, yesterday.

Partnerships between the Government, corporate Jamaica, and the Diaspora will be the most effective way of producing quality, early childhood educational facilities, Ruel Reid, education minister, has said.

"Corporate and Diaspora support is very important as, unfortunately, Government alone cannot do it, and the best model is this kind of partnership and partnership with the community," said Reid.

Reid was among a small touring group, including members of the Diaspora, who visited the Union Gardens Infant School in South St Andrew, yesterday.

The school was developed out of an initiative of the Union Gardens Foundation, which was established in 2014 by Glen Christian, chairman of the Cari-Med and Kirk Distributors Group, and Gary 'Butch' Hendrickson, chairman of National Baking Company Ltd.

The two-year-old institution was constructed at a cost of approximately $174 million through public-private partnership.

Reid, who told the diaspora Conference on Monday that 17 new schools were needed to be built across the island to adequately account for the number of spaces necessary, said that the public private partnership arrangement at Union Gardens Infant would be replicated across the island.

"This is the perfect model. If the private sector can come and we establish new institutions like this, particularly the decommissioning of basic schools that are not up to standard, build bigger institutions, which this one is, and we have more capacity and the best facilities, this is going to meet the quality standard that we require at the early childhood level," he said.

International Gonation Consolation Group representative for the Diaspora Dr Conrad Ingram told The Gleaner that he took the tour to ascertain what assistance the school still needs in order to fast-track assistance by providing funding.

"We are on tour of this wonderful infant school, just looking at what we can do here, to see what the needs are for some of these schools - this one and others - and then we go back to our base in Atlanta and use that as a springboard to raise additional funds to meet these kinds of needs.

He said that the school represented a model of what private partnership and the Diaspora can do to uplift the quality of institutions across Jamaica.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com