The Allman Hill Primary and Junior High School in Above Rocks, St. Andrew, now has an Infant Department complete with amenities for early-childhood growth and development.
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information provided more than $2.1 million towards the project, which involved refurbishing an existing structure on the school’s compound to create classroom space, internal and external play areas and bathrooms.
The project also included installation of play equipment, and fencing of the play area; demolition and construction of a new water trough; construction of a retaining wall, rain water harvest system and soakaway to absorb surface water; and painting of internal and external walls.
The department, which opened for the start of the 2016/17 school year in September 2016, accommodates 36 students.
Delivering the main address at the official opening ceremony on March 29, portfolio Minister, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, said the project is in keeping with measures to strengthen the early-childhood sector.
This involves, where possible, the merger of clusters of basic schools as well as subsuming some into infant departments of primary schools. This is being done according to factors such as the number of students at each institution, and the needs of the geographical areas, among other considerations.
In addition, the Ministry, through the Early Childhood Commission (ECC), has been working to improve operational standards of institutions across the island.
The ECC has embarked on a series of regional certification fairs to get the schools to adhere to the 12 operating standards for the certification.
These standards relate to staffing; development and educational programmes; interactions and relationships with children; physical environment; indoor and outdoor equipment; health; nutrition; safety; child rights, child protection and equality; parent and stakeholder participation; administration and finance.
Principal of Allman Hill Primary and Junior High School, Georgia Henry, thanked the Ministry and other stakeholders who contributed towards the project.
She said the community has welcomed the Infant Department and “a number of parents came to register students dressed in their uniforms in September 2015 before the actual opening of the department”.