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Early-childhood education a priority - PM

Published:Friday | January 15, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller (right) and head of delegation for the European Union (EU) in Jamaica Ambassador Paola Amedei unveil a plaque at a ceremony to officially open the new state-of-the-art Union Gardens Infant School in South West St Andrew on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has hailed the development of the new Union Gardens Infant School as an example of the Government's commitment to early-childhood education.

The state-of-the-art institution, located off Spanish Town Road in the South West St Andrew constituency, was constructed at a cost of approximately $174 million through public-private partnership.

Speaking at the official opening on Wednesday, Simpson Miller said early-childhood education has remained one of the highest priorities of the Government.

Fourteen per cent of the annual budget, or $11 billion, is allocated to early-childhood and special education.

"I believe in education, and I believe in the power of education," the prime minister said.

The Union Gardens Infant School was developed out of an initiative of the Union Gardens Foundation.

Fifty per cent of the project- cost was contributed by private- sector donors, and the other 50 per cent was provided by the Culture, Health, Arts, Science and Education Fund and the Jamaica Social Investment Fund's Poverty Reduction Programme, which is supported by the European Union.

The institution, which was constructed between March and September 2015, boasts six spacious classrooms, covered walkway-linked buildings with play areas, landscaped common areas and an auditorium, among other features.