More Room! Manchester Schools get major expansion
Several primary schools across the island are faced with overcrowding, which has resulted in shift systems being implemented.
As the Government continues to eliminate this type of operation, some school administrators in Manchester can breathe a sigh of relief after receiving newly constructed blocks.
The McIntosh Memorial Primary School last Friday officially opened eight new classrooms, made possible through the Ministry of Education and the Methodist Church of Jamaica at a cost of more than J$25 million.
Some students waved goodbye to poorly ventilated classrooms partitioned by blackboards, to welcome the spacious, newly constructed and retrofitted home for improved learning.
According to Mayor Brenda Ramsay, the new block is well deserved.
"Today's handing-over is not merely an exercise to satisfy the need for more space, it is reward for quality performance because in the scheme of things where resources are not readily available, this development could have been taken somewhere else," Ramsay said.
With a record of academic excellence, the institution was lauded for its consistent accomplishments despite the challenges.
"... In these cramped quarters, in this place with all its asperities and difficulties, you have achieved some 20 per cent beyond the national average in numeracy at 88 per cent and in the Math Olympiad in a society where we still have a math-phobia ... McIntosh becomes 7th place out of 190 schools," said Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites.
He added: "We want to show that there is goodness on this land and there is growth taking place. Don't measure growth by the amount of money in your pocket. Oh yes, we need that, too, and jobs, but let me tell you, the most fundamental element of growth is what is in your 'pickney' head and how they behave themselves."
Prime minister Portia Simpson Miller, who was keynote speaker at the event, said 700 new primary classroom spaces and 2,000 secondary classroom spaces have been provided in the region since the start of the year.
"Making adequate classroom space available is vital for providing our young people with a good education. Since January this year, more than 2,000 additional classroom spaces were provided at high schools in Manchester and St Elizabeth at a total cost of $347 million," Simpson Miller said.
Meanwhile, the Mandeville Primary and Junior High School, through the partnership of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund, Caribbean Development Bank and the Government of Jamaica will move to cease the current shift system and has signalled this plan through the groundbreaking for a 12 classroom block to be erected.
According to Member of Parliament Peter Bunting, the initial plan of building a new school has been changed and the funds in turn will be used to expand the schools which now exist. The project is also geared towards re-roofing, repainting, and making the building accessible for the disabled.
It is expected to be complete by mid-2016 at a cost of J$64 million.