The Jamaica China Goodwill Infant Schools 1&2 are the newest editions of early childhood institutions set to provide education for the youngest children of Olympic Gardens and Morant Bay.
Held on the grounds of the Olympic Way school on Wednesday, October 31, the handover ceremony was heralded as a momentous occasion in the advancement of education in Jamaica.
Built as a gift to the Jamaica people to the tune of approximately US$7 million, the state-of-the-art institutions for early childhood development boast: eight pristine classrooms, play rooms, rooms for service, auxiliary rooms, outdoor corridors, outdoor playground, and other important facilities.
Some residents and parents told Jamaica Today that the facility reminds them of a ‘university’ in the sheer size of the school.
Across the two locations, Olympic Gardens and Morant Bay, the schools are expected to accommodate up to 180 students.
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Jamaica Tian Qi said Wednesday’s handover ceremony stands as shining examples of fertility and friendship between China and Jamaica.
In his speech, Member of Parliament for Eastern St. Thomas Fenton Ferguson lauded the collaborative efforts of successive government as well as the continued kindness of the People’s Republic of China.
“I really want to thank the government and people of China for this gift to the children of Jamaica. This is the kind of project that represents the best of governments, in relation to projects started in another era but is [continued in] purpose,” he said.
“This is a historic moment for all of us and especially our young ones, who will be seen as the first group entering this institution. These two schools are the finest infant schools anywhere across the country,” Ferguson added.
For his part as Member of Parliament for West Central St. Andrew, within which the school was constructed, Prime Minister Andrew Holness expressed his thanks to China on behalf of a grateful nation.
Prime Minister Holness further argued that in its capacity as a public school, students and parents must not be subject to tuition fees as provisions are made by the Ministry of Education.
“This is a public institution, owned by the government of Jamaica. This school must not charge any [tuition] fee as an infant school; I want to make that absolutely clear. [The schools] must follow government policy,” he said.
According to Holness, under the Charter of Rights, all Jamaican children are entitled to free pre-primary education, and in that regard, he insisted that all obligations on the part of the Ministry of Education were contributed to fulfilling that guarantee.
“As we move along this path of expanding infant schools, we will be fulfilling our constitutionally established obligation to the children of Jamaica to provide them with free pre-primary education,” Holness remarked.
By Gavin Riley