Jones upset over delays in school construction
A Government minister today expressed serious frustration over the length of time it takes to get new schools constructed, while suggesting that some were deliberately seeking to “thwart” the Government’s vision.
“Lord, you have to wait in this country forever to get something done!” exclaimed Minister of Education Ronald Jones, while complaining that “the ground has not even been cracked” on a proposed multi-million dollar secondary school at Searles Court, in Christ Church.
Addressing the official launch of an Education Research Consortium project at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Jones further lamented that the money for the school had been allocated since 2011 and up to this day nothing had been done.
“We are determined that another secondary school is to be built at Searles in Christ Church. That determination was made five years ago. The money was there four years ago. The ground had not even been cracked. But that’s another reality,” he said.
While stating that he did not want to cast aspersions on anyone, the Minister said there were a number of primary schools costing about $100 million, which were also being held up.
“Lord, you have to wait in this country forever to get something done! In that time Combermere has 1,200 children. When Dr Downes [Professor Andrew Downes from the University of the West Indies] went there, it had 445. Today there are nearly 1,200 [which is] too large for such a small country. So we know we need between two to three others [schools] to bring the numbers down to about 900, particularly with post-secondary education taking place [for students ages] 17, 18,” Jones added.
He went on to charge that some people, who did not share the Government’s vision “see it as their right and their opportunity to thwart, to frustrate, to hide a file”.
However, he said the Government was determined to press ahead with its mandate.
“Wunnuh live in glorified worlds yuh. Wake up, smell the cassava blossom! Rough realities, but we going ahead,” the Minister assured.
In August last year, Jones had announced that work on the new secondary school at Searles was set to begin within another 12 months, while several existing ones would be demolished and rebuilt.
At that time, Jones was visiting several schools to assess their state of readiness for the start of the new school year in September.
Speaking on a stop at the Maria Holder Nursery School in Jackson, St Michael, he had also revealed that Government had already begun to issue tenders for construction.
The schools earmarked for refurbishment were the 130-year-old Wesley Hall Primary School; Belmont Primary School in My Lord’s Hill, St Michael; St Martin’s Mangrove Primary School in St Philip; Boscobel Primary School in St Peter; and the St Elizabeth Primary School in St Joseph, as well as the Wilkie Cumberbatch and St Philip Primary schools.