JWN Foundation spends $30m to upgrade learning centre in Holland Estate
The J. Wray & Nephew (JWN) Foundation has provided a $30-million gift of an expanded and upgraded infant department to the Holland Estate community in St Elizabeth.
The facility will improve the education and life chances of more than 53 children now enrolled there, while providing skills training for adults in parenting, entrepreneurship and business management.
This is aimed at providing residents who previously depended on sugar cane farming with other skills which are transferable to various other areas of economic activity at a time when J. Wray & Nephew is discontinuing sugar cane growing in that area.
The Middlesex Infant School is equipped with a multipurpose parenting zone and the JWN Foundation says this is part of the company's commitment to capacity building among the people of the community, which has been dependent on sugar cane for centuries.
"Training in underserved yet viable industries will be provided to increase the capacity of the community members," said Clement 'Jimmy' Lawrence, chairman of J Wray & Nephew and the JWN Foundation.
Lawrence outlined the objectives of the project as being: "To create a multipurpose learning facility that enhances educational opportunities across generations; to empower the community council to be a catalyst for economic growth and development in Holland and St Elizabeth; to prepare the community to take advantage of economic and/or social opportunities that will arise in the Jamaican marketplace; and to build social inclusion through the provision of improved sports and social facilities."
A better learning environment for children has been created with the expansion of classroom blocks and the creation of a fully equipped learning centre offering training in information technology, arts, drama and physical development.
For enhanced physical development, a play area with recreational equipment, accompanying safety features and fencing has been added.
This is in addition to other infrastructure upgrading, including the building of new restrooms, provision of new water-storage tanks and improved drainage.
There is also a renovated canteen, upgraded courtyard, the addition of a sick bay, the creation of a vegetable garden, the establishment of a multipurpose area, the construction of an auditorium and a perimeter wall.
A partnership between the JWN Foundation and the Early Childhood Commission, approximately 2,600 people representing 663 households of the Holland community, will benefit from the educational institution.
Construction was carried out over eight weeks in July and August this year. An official handover of the facility is scheduled for Wednesday.