Approximately 2,500 students at Little Bay Primary and Infant School in Westmoreland and Old Harbour High School in St. Catherine are benefitting from the donation of two buses to the institutions.
The vehicles, which have bolstered the schools’ transportation arrangements, are already yielding positive outcomes, as student attendance at both schools has increased.
There has, additionally, been a decrease in the number of students at Little Bay Primary relying on ‘bike taxis’ to get to school.
The buses were provided by the Government of Japan at a cost of $11 million with grant funding support under the Japanese Grassroots Human Security Projects.
They will augment the Ministry of Education and Youth’s Rural Schools Transportation Programme.
The National Education Trust (NET), an agency of the Ministry, was pivotal in the process of acquiring the buses, which will also be utilised to transport youngsters for academic and extracurricular engagements.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Fayval Williams, lauded the stakeholders collaborating on the engagement during a ceremony at the Ministry, on Tuesday (February 21), to formalise the arrangements.
She noted that students attending schools in rural communities often have to travel long distances, “without the requisite public transportation infrastructure to support them.”
Mrs. Williams said, consequent on this, “I am sure that the school community… also deeply appreciates this help.”
Japan’s newly appointed Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Yasuhiro Atsumi, noted that Jamaica has benefitted from J$1.4 billion in programme support under the Grassroots Human Security Projects, since its launch in 1995.
“So once more, Japan is pleased to support educational programmes so that all students can fulfill their educational ambitions, lifelong learning skills and [have] opportunities equipped with strong support systems,” he said.
Meanwhile, several stakeholders welcomed the donations, among them, Custos Rotulorum for St. Catherine and Old Harbour High School Board Chair, Hon. Icylin Golding.
“We are excited for this gift of a bus. We pledge to [take] care… [of] this bus and use it to further education and enrich lives,” she said.
For his part, Little Bay Primary and Infant School Principal, Keron King, said the bus is a welcome addition to the institution.
“For the last four years, the most important goal that we had set was to get a school bus, [because] transportation is a major challenge for us. [So today] is one of the happiest days of my life,” he stated.