30% of Campion students from primary schools
Students from primary schools now account for 30 per cent of the population at Jamaica's leading secondary school, Campion College. This is an increase from five per cent over the last decade.
Principal Grace Baston said there was a strategic goal to diversify the student body by lessening the dominance from preparatory schools.
"We begged primary-school principals to encourage their children to choose our school, because we knew that for some parents, there was this stigma attached to being at Campion. If you are poor and you go there, you're going to have a hard time, you're going to be one of a tiny minority, you might not feel comfortable," said Baston at a recent Gleaner Editors' Forum.
DIVERSITY IS IMPORTANT
The school's chairman, Anton Thompson, said the move was grounded in the need to foster social inclusion.
"We are happy for it, because it serves our ethos and our purpose to be of service to the entire country, and more importantly, it helps [to] make us a better school," asserted Thompson. "[The] fact is that diversity in our student population is very important to us in being able to produce students who are going to be sensitive and responsive to the needs of Jamaica in the future."
Baston explained that the school spends approximately
$6 million annually through a parent-funded budget to provide scholarships and meals. She added that the student card system reduced cash transactions for canteen and bookshop services, which made it easier for needy students to receive aid in a discreet manner.
"It allowed us to assist the children in the way that maintained their dignity best. They don't have to have a special ticket, you don't have a special sign that says PATH (Programme for Advancement through Health and Education) lunches. Their name is not in a book in the canteen," said Baston.