On the heels of the handing over the Flower Hill Basic School to that community in January of this year by the Digicel Foundation, Bottom Pen also located in St. James, will now boast a brand new, brightly colored, 4 classroom room Basic School. This is the result of a J$13m construction project done by the Digicel Foundation. The handing over took place at the school on Wednesday, June 11, 2008 in the afternoon.
The One Way Tabernacle Early Childhood Institute which started in 2005 with 16 students held classes inside the One Way Tabernacle Sanctuary. This proved more difficult each passing year as at the end of each school week, both students and teachers had to pack up their desks, props and chairs to make room for the church’s weekend worship service, the baton was then passed on to the church members after their service to re-arrange the sanctuary in order to allow for school the next day. This situation got worse as the student population grew. There are now a total of 30 students.
Carlene Thomas in an exciting voice expressed much appreciation to the Digicel Foundation for the new school and indicated that this not only frees them from years of readjusting and reorganizing, but also allows each class to have their own space for teaching and learning, without disturbing the other classes. Carlene also made mention of the school’s kitchen and dining facilities that will enable the students to have proper lunch breaks and not be forced to eat at their desks. She added that community members come onto the premises on a daily basis just to rave about the community’s new school.
The school while on its path to affix their signature to the building, invited art teacher, Edmando Souza from the Mount Alvernia Prep School to paint cartoon murals on each classroom’s entrance door that adds to the school’s décor.
The community of Bottom Pen is heavily populated and some residents of Montego Bay expressed fear in attempting to venture into the area due to its history of violence General Robert Neish, Executive Director of the Digicel Foundation explained. It was quite obvious based on our first visit that the community had a genuine need for proper school facilities and the Digicel Foundation was keen to assist to ensure that the students receive the best to enhance their learning potential.
Member of Parliament, Dr. Horace Chang in a quote to the media stated ‘through Early Childhood Institutions such as One Way Tabernacle Early Childhood Institution, we are in fact building Jamaica’s future leaders, future professionals, future workers, future families and future communities.
I want to thank the Digicel Foundation for its efforts in helping to build Jamaica’s future, by the provision of this Basic School, which will be of a benefit to the community and by extension the country.
Among the list of invitees was Cathy Cooke of Jamaica Public Service who will be supporting the school with its school feeding programme.
The Digicel Foundation helps to promote self-reliance through its support for skills training, education, sports and other social programmes. Through these activities, the Foundation aims to build community spirit across Jamaica.
Other projects undertaken by the Foundation in Western Jamaica include:
· A J$3.3 million multipurpose Sports Complex at, and fencing of, First Hill All-Age School in Trelawny;
· A J$9 million Basic School in Flower Hill, St. James
· A J$2.3 million Reading Resource Room for Knockalva Technical High School in Hanover