The children of More-land Hill and surrounding communities in Westmore-land are now in an environment more conducive to learning as the newly refurbished Moreland Hill Primary School, fully equipped with modern facilities, opened at the start of the new school year.
Moreland Hill is a picturesque community nestled in the hills about 20 minutes east of Negril. It is typical of Jamaica's interior: beautiful, remote, insular in some ways, but resilient and self-sufficient. The community's only school, Moreland Hill Primary, had experienced many challenges over the past decade, having lost the confidence of the community to adequately prepare its students for secondary education and beyond. Most families send their children to Little London Primary, at huge costs, and with a time-consuming commute.
The extensively renovated facility, which comprises early childhood institutions pre-K through sixth grade, was originally built in the late 1940s. Work began in early July 2013 on what is now an impressive and desperately needed community resource for the children, which was completed in time for opening on September 2.
"The Rockhouse gift is especially pleasing because it comes from persons abroad who care so much for us and our island that they invest in our future. This is a high form of friendship," said Education Minister Ronald Thwaites.
In 10 short weeks, the Rockhouse Foundation, led by president, Peter Rose, completely refurbished and modernised the facility's infrastructure, adding a tuition-free infant school with age-appropriate furniture and supplies as well as sanitary facilities.
The school now boasts a new kitchen-dining area, a multi-purpose room, whiteboards, and shelves. Fencing, lights, a modernised filtered water-collection system, and flush toilets are also some of the added features.
A state-of-the-art technology centre with 10 computers, Internet, a laser printer, and an overhead projector will contribute significantly to the education needs of the students and community and will effectively prepare them to compete in a global economy that is technology driven.
"The turnaround at Moreland Hill Primary was already under way when Rockhouse Foundation got involved. The new principal, Alecia Laing, and her staff are great partners and are absolutely dedicated to making the school a centre of excellence," said Rose.
"We are very excited to join with the ministry and the Early Childhood Commission, and most importantly, the community of Moreland Hill to help develop a great infant and primary school that we hope will uplift the entire community," Rose added.
The educational facility, which was on the verge of closure, had its enrolment decline to just 41 students. Today, the school has admitted 100 students - including 25 preschoolers - a resounding endorsement by the residents of Moreland Hill and the confidence and encouragement they have been emboldened with, thanks to the $13.5 million spent on this worthy project.
"This is the kind of public-private-partnership we need here in Jamaica that must become the cornerstone of educational development given the limitation of state resources," stated Thwaites.
He added: "This is the community's property, the community's institution, and it is the community's ladder to prosperity and success. Therefore, they must protect it and make it serve the purpose for which it is intended."