The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information has committed $3.5 million for first phase of improvement works at the Padmore Primary School in Red Hills, St. Andrew.
Portfolio Minister, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, told JIS News that the works will include renovation of the bathroom facilities, installation of a computer laboratory, which will also serve as a library, as well as paving of the school grounds.
Mr. Reid said some of the renovation work will be completed ahead of the start of the new school year in September. Other improvements will be undertaken over time, he informed.
Senator Reid toured the institution on Thursday (April 7) along with Member of Parliament for St. Andrew West Rural, Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn; Councillor for the Red Hills Division, Otis Hamilton; and a team from the Ministry.
The school, previously slated for closure due to low student enrolment and underperformance, has made a dramatic turnaround achieving 100 per cent pass rates at the grade three and four levels, as well as outstanding performances in the 2015 Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT).
The Education Minister told JIS News that the tour is a “fact-finding mission” to assess the needs and discuss plans for the future of the institution, as well as extend the Ministry’s full support to the school’s leadership.
“I am here as the new Minister of Education to see first hand Padmore Primary, having heard about its turnaround and its success story. I wanted to be here to let them know that the Ministry of Education fully supports their efforts… we have to look at the capacity of the school and so we will be guided by those discussions,” the Minister said.
Mrs. Cuthbert-Flynn also pledged her commitment to assisting the institution which, she noted, has been receiving “many applications” from parents interested in sending their children to the school.
“Your pass rate was so excellent last year. I was so proud to be a part of this constituency knowing that you have all done so well…I am very willing to work with the Ministry of Education to see what I can do as the Member of Parliament to see things happen,” Mrs. Cuthbert-Flynn said.
In addition to the support from the Ministry, a number of private sector entities have come forward to extend assistance to the school.
Principal of Padmore Primary, Keisha Hayles, who, along with the administration and community members, worked tirelessly to improve the school’s academic performance, welcomed the visit by the team from the Ministry.
“We thank (the Minister) for being here. I believe it is a step in the right direction. I have been seeking attention for Padmore Primary because we are now one of the top schools in Jamaica and I believe that the playing field must be levelled,” she stated.