Alessandro Boyd, Gleaner Writer
There was great joy and pride on the faces of more than 20 children as they attentively watched the opening of the St Margaret's Real Success Basic School on Wildman Street in Kingston yesterday.
This was the first basic school to be constructed under the Food For The Poor (FFP) Jamaica 50 campaign.
"As Jamaica turns 50 this year, we have decided as a gift to give 50 schools back to Jamaica. Education is critically important and one of FFP's missions is to contribute towards the sustainability of this country," FFP Chairman Andrew Mahfood told The Gleaner. "If we can educate children in environments that have low income, then that will be one step closer towards this sutainability."
FFP provided much-needed assistance as the previous school building that had served the community for more than 20 years was in a deplorable condition.
"The walls were just falling apart and the roof leaked crazily. Whenever rain fell, the leaking would always get worse and this was a problem for the teachers as they had to be moving the children from one spot to another," said Merna Jackson, principal for the basic school.
The new St Margaret's Basic School features two large classrooms, a sickbay, office for the teachers, kitchen and a sanitation area. A total of 42 students are currently enrolled at the institution.
Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites also highlighted the importance of the role that the school plays in the development of the area.
Beacon of hope
"This is a beacon of hope as it allows for the quality education of these children in ways that have not been possible before. It also raises the morale of the community," Thwaites said.
"This shows that Kingston can be restored by instilling quality education through these institutions and that there is good prospect and hope. I think this is an excellent initiative and we look forward to many more."
This initiative is just one component of the charity's ongoing solutions to some of the socio-economic challenges facing Jamaica. Since 2006, the FFP has constructed 51 basic schools across the island.
"This is indeed a blessing in so many ways. Most of all, it is a blessing of a vision realised for improving the lives of our nation's children in the three-to-six age group," Mahfood said.