The Government increased investment in education, with an additional $2.7 billion provided in the 2018/19 budget, moving to $101.6 billion from $98.9 billion in 2017/18.
The maintenance grant for high schools was increased to $500,000, up from $50,000, and additional funding was provided to cover the payment for 1,007 cooks at primary and secondary schools, which amounts to $323.1 million. Payments totaling $887 million were provided for temporary and part-time staff.
Improvement to Infrastructure
• Approximately $525.3 million was allocated to carry out critical repairs at 183 schools.
• New classrooms were constructed at Black River High School in St. Elizabeth and the Portland-based Fair Prospect school through a $31 million grant from Japan.
• 269 school canteens were upgraded at a cost of $105 million.
• $50 million was allocated for the installation of wheel- chair ramps at 111 public educational institutions.
• Five additional classrooms and four technology laboratories were constructed at Immaculate Conception High School in St. Andrew at a cost of approximately $76 million.
• The Mineral Heights Primary School in Clarendon was taken off the shift system following the addition of 12 new classrooms under the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF).
• A $700 million Festo Authorised and Certified Training (FACT) Centre for Mechatronics and Automation was opened at the Caribbean Maritime University campus. The facility is the largest FACT Centre in the world.
• JSIF distributed over 80 first-aid kits, 120 fire extinguishers, 120 smoke detectors, 40 wash hand signs and 40 emergency assembly signs to 40 schools islandwide.
Primary Exit Profile (PEP)
Preparations were advanced for the first sitting of the Primary Exit Profile, which replaces the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) in 2019.
• Thousands of teachers and parents benefited from training, which is ongoing.
• A special app and website were developed to assist teachers, parents and students preparing for PEP. Persons may access the website at www.moey.gov.jm/pep or go to the Google Play store to access the app.
• Approved PEP preparation texts were launched.
• 100 per cent of students who sat the GSAT were placed in full secondary level institutions, one percentage point improvement over last year.
• A new curriculum was developed for students with moderate to severe intellectual disabilities.
• Carlong Publishers Limited supplied and distributed textbooks for students in grades one to three islandwide, valued at US$1,941,848.34, under the Government’s 2018/19 Primary Textbook Programme.
• A Mathematics Improvement Programme was piloted at Allman Town, Clan Carthy, and John Mills Infant, Primary and Junior High School in Kingston and St. Andrew; Devon Primary School in Manchester; and Mineral Heights Primary School in Clarendon.
• Entrepreneurship classes became mandatory in all high schools as one of the major initiatives of the Government to revamp the education system to produce more rounded individuals.