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Rotary, Hi-Lo partner to donate books to schools in Westmoreland

Published:Saturday | April 21, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Dalton Laing, Gleaner Writer

SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland:The Rotary Club of Savanna-la-Mar through a donation from Hi-Lo Food Stores handed over books to 26 schools in Westmoreland as part of an outreach programme.

The books, valued at $6.5 million, were made available as a result of downsizing of the operations of the chain in February.

"We recently closed our Savanna-la-Mar store where we operated a book store," explained Adrian Kerr, retail operations manager for Hi-Lo Food Stores. "We contacted the Rotary Club and indicated that we would like to hand these books over to schools in the area and the club facilitated us."

Immediate past president Douglas Arnold said the organisation was happy to have been chosen for the gifts.

"This is a significant amount of books and we will distribute them in two phases. We are quite fortunate to have Hi-Lo on-board our book project and we are hoping to continue this partnership."

Hi-Lo Food Stores still operates two branches in the parish at Sunshine Plaza, Negril and Value Master in Grange Hill.

"We believe that it is more feasible to operate just these two stores in Westmoreland," Kerr said.

Range of schools

Among the schools which benefited from the first phase of the book distribution are early-childhood institutions, primary, preparatory, and high schools.

Education Officer Kaydeen Miles-Mclean, who was the guest speaker at the brief handing-over ceremony at Hotel Commingle in Savanna-la-Mar last week, spoke about the strategic objectives set by the Ministry of Education to be achieved by 2015. She highlighted three main ones:

Equitable access to all students which is to sell the schools in the hinterlands to ease overcrowding in the built-up areas

Ensure all students achieve 100 per cent literacy and at least 85 per cent numeracy. She says there has been an upward trend, but there is a far way to go since currently the average is 49 per cent literacy.

Provide a safe and secure environment for students.