Two new Coaster buses were handed over to Lacovia High School in St. Elizabeth, on October 7, by the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project of the Government of Japan.
The Project has been in operation since 1995, to help respond to the needs in the education and other sectors of the economy.
In January of this yea, the organisation gave the institution a grant to purchase the buses. The grant was approved under the Ministry of Education and Youth’s Expanded Pilot School Bus Programme and the Japanese organisation. The total value of the grant was US$135,014.
Minister of Education and Youth, Hon. Fayval Williams, in her address at the handover ceremony, said the buses represent a “continuation of the excellent support to Jamaica’s education system that the government of Japan has extended to us under the project, which was started in April of 2015.”
She noted that Jamaica and Japan have signed several similar agreements over the years which are indicative of the strong bilateral relationship the countries have enjoyed since 1964.
“This underscores the friendship, understanding and cooperation between our two countries and we take the opportunity to commend the Ambassador of Japan to Jamaica, His Excellency Masaya Fujiwara, for the continued support [for] education,” Mrs. Williams said.
She added that investments in education, such as these, will benefit Lacovia High and Jamaica as a whole.
The Minister explained that under the Ministry’s expanded pilot bus programme, schools in need submit requests, whether directly or through the National Education Trust (NET), to the embassy of Japan in Jamaica for final consideration under the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project.
Through this programme, the government of Japan offers financial assistance for development projects designed to meet the diverse needs of developing countries such as Jamaica.
“The grants approved are used to purchase school buses from Toyota Jamaica for the improvement of the school’s transportation system. This is a most welcome addition to the efforts of the Ministry to expand the rural school bus service,” she said.
Mrs. Williams pointed out that the Government currently spends $395 million annually on transportation, primarily for students who are on the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), reaching some 7,500 students in terms of rural transportation.
Mrs. Williams thanked the Government and people of Japan for the buses, and assured them that the principal, staff and teachers at Lacovia High School will take the best care of the vehicles.
For his part, Mr. Fujiwara said that both Jamaica and Japan share the belief that no country can develop effectively without investing in its people.
“The most vulnerable citizens, including our children, should never be left behind in the process of development,” he emphasised.
The Ambassador said it is hoped that buses purchased through the Japanese organisation will help to strengthen the education system on the island.
Principal of Lacovia High, Ricardo Bennett, said the school is “eternally grateful for the kind consideration of the people of Japan, the Ministry of Education and Youth, the Lacovia High School team and the many friends of our school”.