US charity installs toilets in Salt Spring Primary
Barrington Flemming, Gleaner Writer
WESTERN BUREAU:The Salt Spring Primary School in Montego Bay, which has been reeling from low enrolment, got a major boost on Wednesday with the installation of two new flush toilets and washbasins by California-based Children of the Caribbean Foundation, which has also adopted the institution.
Principal of the school, Tricia McKenzie, said the addition of the toilet fixtures has come at a great time as the institution was working earnestly to establish its infant department in September and having separate sanitary conveniences for the younger children is a requirement of the Ministry of Education.
"This is so opportune as it fits right into the school's improvement plan as we were wondering how to fund the installation of sanitary facilities to accommodate our plan of starting our infant department. We have had some problems with enrolment in the past, but we are hopeful that this will help to boost the numbers," McKenzie said.
She said the school population stood at 150 with six teachers and one guidance counsellor but could accommodate another 60 students to push the numbers to 210. A total of eight sanitary conveniences will now serve the school, half being for boys and the other four for girls.
"We have suffered from migration of residents and stigmatisation of the community, which has been based on many factors. So people are of the belief that they have to go into the heart of Montego Bay to send their children to school, so we are changing that perception," McKenzie said.
She said many schools are underpopulated, so her administration is willing to do whatever it takes to boost enrolment to stave off what the minister of education has referred to as the redeployment of teachers.
McKenzie said a breakfast feeding programme, which was established at the school, has received the full physical and monetary support of the member of parliament, Lloyd B. Smith.
Co-chair of the Caribbean Foundation, Rosie Hodge Adams, a native of St Kitts, said it was a nostalgic and fulfilling moment for her as she grew up in the Caribbean. She said she was brought to tears by the sheer brilliance of the students and their drive to succeed. She said the foundation would continue to do work to improve the infrastructure and to assist with the curriculum needs.
"I must commend all of you, and the principal, who has an improvement plan for the school. It was easy to embrace this school as the community came out and gave their support with the installation, plumbing, and painting of the area, and so we will be adopting Salt Spring Primary School and helping to shape the way forward."