Launtia Cuff, Gleaner Writer
The right to education is a fundamental human right and can be considered a building block of human existence. However, there are many factors that may negatively affect the quality of education that a child may receive, as was the case for some students from the community of Dalintober in St Elizabeth who had to travel a long distance by foot in order to get to school as deplorable road conditions caused a lack of transportation to and from the community.
Sandra White, councillor for the Brompton Division, said that before the road was fixed, there was only one taxi that plied the area because the road was in an appalling state.
The eight-kilometre stretch of road, which is said to benefit approximately 200 residents, was rehabilitated at a cost of $79 million by the National Works Agency.
"The Dalintober road was in a deplorable condition. When I became councillor in 2007, and when I drove there, [I] was scared to take my vehicle there. From the entrance of Dalintober to go in the middle of the community, it takes me 10 minutes. Before, it [took] me almost 45 minutes.
"It was just one taxi going into the community, so the students had to walk from Dalintober to Crawford [Primary] School, etc," White told Rural Xpress.
Sharon Nisbeth, principal of the Crawford Primary School, said that especially in the second term, she noticed that students from the community would be even later for school than they normally were as they were unable to leave as early as they would normally do.
"I know they are hot and tired when they come in the mornings. They want to go and buy bag juice and those things. I notice that in January, in the second term, when the mornings are short and dark, they come later," Nisbeth told Rural Xpress.
She added that since the rehabilitation of the road, she had seen improvements in the attendance of the students from the community as there was a now a bus that would take them to and from the community.
Richard Azan, state minister in the Ministry of Transport and Works, said that when the work was started, it seemed like a daunting task and there were doubts as to whether it could have been completed. He said now that it had been completed, it could open to door for the development of the community.
"When we visited here last year and we took a drive through this road, I must tell you, I was one of them who said that it looked impossible. But today, with hope, we were able to complete this piece of route.
He added: "Travelling up it [took] us over an hour, and plus the last time when I visited here and when I reached the square up the top there, I was a little bit shocked because I couldn't believe that we reached there so fast. I see a number of taxis, and, therefore, [people] are able to go a little faster to their business. They are able to save more money, and trust me, you are going to see great development in this community."
He also said that it was expected that the parish council would add the road to their maintenance routine and that it was important that the residents accept that they had a role to play in ensuring that happened now that the road had been fixed.
He also implored those using the road to exercise caution whenever they travelled along the roadway and be mindful not to use the road as a raceway.