Better Days Ahead for Jones Park Basic School

12 Oct, 2015

IMG_3549The Jones Park Basic School in Manchioneal, Portland has been transformed into a model school 60 years after it was established. The expansion and renovation of the existing structure was accomplished by the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education Fund, (CHASE). The handing over ceremony of the new School, took place on Wednesday September 23.
Mr. W. Billy Heaven, Chief Executive Officer of CHASE, in his address to the appreciative audience made up of parents, teachers and other members of the Manchioneal community, noted that modern infrastructure and age appropriate facilities, highly trained teachers and well-resourced programmes are essential elements of a quality and comprehensive learning environment for basic school students. “These students are at a crucial stage of life in terms of their physical, intellectual, emotional, social and creative development and must be provided with positive learning experiences,” he said.
IMG_3701Jones Park Basic School, located on lands donated by Mr. Fred N. Jones, has served the Manchioneal community since the early 1950s. Mrs. Patrice Thompson-Hall, Principal of the school, recalls that as a child, she sat on benches that were still being used at the institution. The school building was also in poor condition. Sections of the bathroom had no windows, and flooded when it rained. The Principal says these conditions deteriorated following Hurricane Sandy, forcing frequent suspension of classes.
Classes were also over-crowded, with four children sitting on one bench which would normally seat two or three; and there was no room for an indoor play area. Things came to a head when falling fragments from the ceiling resulted in the Fire Brigade closing a section of the canteen.
Mrs. Thompson-Hall said she was delighted when she was advised that J$28 million had been allocated for the infrastructure improvement – more than twice the sum originally earmarked. The project, financed under the CHASE Fund’s Education portfolio, included the construction of additional classroom space with partitions for three separate classes, a Principal’s office, staff room, computer room, sick bay, storeroom and four new sanitary facilities to bring the total number of units to seven. A fully-equipped outdoor play area and perimeter fencing, as well as classroom furniture and kitchen appliances were also provided.
“This is a complete make-over and we lift our hearts in thanksgiving to God. This new building will be a monument to show how much CHASE is a part of nation-building in Jamaica,”
she said.
Member of Parliament for eastern Portland, Dr. Lynvale Bloomfield, said that the fund’s investment in early childhood education infrastructure was important to the development of the community. He also pointed to the need for functional community centres where training and creative activities could take place. He added that he would be looking for other partners like the CHASE Fund to address other areas of need in east Portland.
CHASE has committed more than J$3.2 Billion for 651 projects in the early childhood sector, representing 25% of the fund’s total income. Some 45% of the funds approved, have been allocated for the upgrading and equipping of Basic Schools.
The Fund has been working closely with the Early Childhood Commission (ECC) to assist basic schools in satisfying the requirements of the Commission with respect to the physical environment. These include adequate space to prevent overcrowding, trained teachers and facilities conducive to learning.