Certified-ready Liberty Hill Infant opens in St Ann - Gov’t pledges $346 million to early childhood sector
A certified-ready Liberty Hill Infant School was officially opened in Dumbarton, St Ann, last week Wednesday, with Education Minister Ruel Reid announcing that for the first time, the Government has allocated $346 million to the early childhood sector.
He said that a further $43 million has been given to cover fees for food handlers’ permits and police records for early childhood practitioners, documents that are a necessity to work in the sector.
The school opened in September to accommodate students, prior to its official opening on Wednesday, and has met the 13 areas necessary to be registered as an early childhood institution.
Acknowledging that the stipend for the sector is minimal, Reid said: “We have $346 million that we will be allocating to the early childhood sector, an increase in the early childhood sector support. We know the stipend we have been providing is very small. Some schools depend entirely on what we give.”
He continued: “And so while we’re waiting for other agencies to come forward, I’ve allocated $43 million so that the ECC (Early Childhood Commission) will have control of that money to ensure that all the practitioners, when they’re ready for the renewal of these permits, it will be funded by the Early Childhood Commission.”
Member of Parliament for North West St Ann Dr Dayton Campbell said that he was elated over the construction of the school after the original structure was destroyed by fire in the early hours of March 3, 2014.
“What the devil meant for bad, God meant for good because what we’ve got out of this is a fabulous institution,” Campbell said.
According to Campbell, after the fire, he approached the CHASE Fund for assistance, which was approved. Ground was broken for the reconstruction of the school in January 2016 by him and then Education Minister Ronald Thwaites.
Chairman of the ECC, Trisha Williams-Singh, and Hilary Coulton, public relations and administrative manager at the CHASE Fund, who were also on hand to witness the official opening of the school, also brought remarks.
The school, built to accommodate 80 students, currently has 54 students on roll, principal, Donna Brown, told The Gleaner.
In addition to the principal, the institution is run by three trained teachers and several caregivers.
Among the sponsors recognised at the opening were Noranda Bauxite, Jewel Runaway Bay Hotel, the Bahía Príncipe Hotel, Collins’ Books and More, Eden’s Café, National Commercial Bank St Ann’s Bay branch, and Sharkie’s Seafood Restaurant.
Entertainment came from students of the Brown’s Town, York Castle and St Hilda’s Diocesan high schools, all located in Brown’s Town.