A pilot to retrofit and instal air-conditioning units in 30 schools is to get under way soon, to reduce heat stress on students amid rising temperatures.
Minister of Education and Youth, Hon. Fayval Williams, made the disclosure during a visit to the Hope Valley Experimental school in Kingston on September 4, for the opening of the 2023/24 school year.
“I am delighted that we are almost about to begin piloting 30 schools, so that we can understand how to do it, how to roll it out and how to scale it up. [Global warming] is a phenomenon that we all have to deal with; temperatures are rising around the world and Jamaica is no exception,” she said.
Mr. Williams said greater use of solar energy in schools is being considered as part of the project.
The Minister noted that the project will seek to have early-childhood, primary and secondary schools retrofitted with air-conditioning units and will, therefore, take some time.
“I am not making a promise to say that it is going to be done by the end of the school year. It is going to take a long time. We have 1,010 primary and high schools. We have maybe another 1,000 early-childhood institutions, so you can see the magnitude of [the task of] retrofitting our schools,” she said.
Mrs. Williams argued that the corrective measure will seek to improve the learning environment for students and staff.
“Unfortunately, over the decades, the way our schools have been built, the ventilation is not as [good] as it should be, and we have not been used to the idea of classrooms being air conditioned, but we are at that moment when not only fans are to be in classrooms but also air conditioning,” she said.
“Of course, this is going to take additional funding to do, and it is not something that is going to happen overnight, but that is where our vision is – to retrofit classrooms so that they will be able to take air conditioning, so that when students and teachers are in the environment it is comfortable,” she added.