EDUCATION MINISTER Ronald Thwaites has underscored the pivotal role which preparatory schools play in advancing education in Jamaica.
Speaking at Monday's commemorative ceremony at Holy Childhood Preparatory School, Half-Way-Tree, St Andrew, to mark the institution's 83rd anniversary, Thwaites noted that while Jamaica has some 800 primary schools, they were not sufficient to meet the learning needs of the target age cohort. Hence the need to "sustain our preparatory schools" to complement the provisions of primary schools.
In acknowledging the challenges facing the parents of some children attending preparatory schools, including the payment of fees, Thwaites emphasised the importance to, as best as is possible, make the necessary steps to advance the youngsters' development.
"I know how hard it is for the parents to manage the fees, even when they are modest, but I have to say to parents all over Jamaica that investing in your child's education is the very best investment that anyone can make," he contended.
In noting the work of the Order of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Roman Catholic Church in developing schools such as Holy Childhood, the minister underscored the need for all churches that have provided educational opportunities to make greater inputs in this regard.
"The State cannot do it alone. The churches must take back their schools, they must own them, and must expand them wherever possible. Holy Childhood Preparatory is now a mature institution, and in the midst of all our complaints, as a nation, we must remember how we have grown and sustained (our) education system," Thwaites said.
In her remarks, Holy Childhood's principal, Sister Claudette Marie Pryce, attributed the institution's success and longevity to the hard work and dedication of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters.
"They have left us a great legacy, which has made a great and significant impact on our lives [and] for this, we are truly thankful. [These 83 years have] been a significant milestone for us. We look forward to ... the growth and development of the Holy Childhood Preparatory School," Pryce said.
Ardenne High School Principal Nadine Molloy Young, who was the guest speaker, underscored the importance of establishing partnerships at all levels of the society to ensure the successful advancement of education in Jamaica.