JIS: The Rock River Primary School in Clarendon now has a fully equipped learning centre, which will serve the needs of students as well as the wider community.
The $10-million facility houses a library and computer room outfitted with laptop and desktop computers, multimedia projector, teaching equipment and learning aids.
It was built through funding from the Japanese Government under its Grant Assistance for Grass-Roots Human Security initiative, with support from the Rock River Foundation.
A broad objective of the project is to provide a safe and conducive teaching and learning environment that caters to all levels of learners, from the gifted to the academically challenged. It will offer training programmes and Internet access to residents.
The National Education Trust (NET), which acts as the implementing authority for education infrastructure projects funded by the international donor community, provided oversight, coordination and technical support for the construction of the learning centre.
Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, in his remarks at the recent opening, urged the school administrators and community to protect the investment.
“Make sure that our children have the benefit of these facilities to maximise their learning,” he said.
Principal of the school, Nadine Raymond-Sharpe, told JIS News that the centre currently offers courses in numeracy and literacy in conjunction with the HEART Trust/NTA, with more training offerings to come on stream in short order.
She said that the facility, which is open to residents in and around Rock River, will play a key role in “equipping persons with the 21st Century skills that will enable them to compete locally and internationally”.
“We will cherish it because we want this to be a lifelong opportunity for the community,” she added.
Deputy Head Girl at the school, Nasheema Rhoden, said that the students welcome the new facility.
“We can use the Internet and learn about more things, and it can also widen our knowledge, and we can learn more about the world,” she tells JIS News.
Fellow student, André Lewis, agreed, pledging that “we will be using it for things that are good”.
Parent, Marcia Williams- Burrell, for her part, said that the learning centre is “vital to the community, because it will enable children to become more advanced where computer literacy is concerned”.
She urged residents to come out and utilise the facility. “Make use of it and help us to keep it in good condition, so it can go on from generation to generation”.
Head of the Rock River Foundation, Dr. Paul McLeod, noted that the development of the centre has provided an opportunity “to change lives”, while Director for Donor and Partnership Management at NET, Latoya Harris, encouraged the school community to take ownership of the investment.
“Maintain it and keep it, and improve upon it for the future,” Ms. Harris added.
Japan’s Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency, Hiromasa Yamazaki, said that his Government welcomes the opportunity to support an education programme that will benefit an entire community.
Ten schools in Jamaica have benefited from the Japan Grassroots Project, which provides financial assistance to small-scale development initiatives in developing countries.
The programme “focuses on the protection and empowerment of the most vulnerable citizens,” the Ambassador noted.
CAPTION: Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid (centre); State Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr. (left), and Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency, Hiromasa Yamazaki, observe the performance of students of the Rock River Primary School, at the recent official opening of a learning centre at the Clarendon-based institution.