Tue | May 24, 2022

Japan investing in Jamaica’s human security

Lacovia High School benefits from $21-million grant to purchase two buses

Published:Friday | January 21, 2022 | 12:09 AMChristopher Serju/Senior Gleaner Writer
Masaya Fujiwara (right), Japanese ambassador to Jamaica, presents the symbolic cheque valued at $21 million to Education Minister Fayval Williams. Also present are representatives of the education ministry and Lacovia High School.
Masaya Fujiwara (right), Japanese ambassador to Jamaica, presents the symbolic cheque valued at $21 million to Education Minister Fayval Williams. Also present are representatives of the education ministry and Lacovia High School.

No country can develop effectively without investing in its people and with the aim of empowering everyone, says Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica Masaya Fujiwara. This is why the Japanese Embassy’s development assistance programme for the island is focusing on the protection and empowerment of vulnerable groups in the society, including children.

The Japanese diplomat explained that the aim behind such an emphasis is to realise quality education through mutual learning that promotes sustainable development and builds a strong foundation for nation-building and growth.

“Jamaica has great potential for advancing further its economic and social development as a progressive nation, and I also believe that there are many passionate Jamaican educators who are earnestly trying to nurture the talents, skills, knowledge and abilities of their students,” Fujiwara said at the grant-signing ceremony on Thursday for the provision of two Toyota Coaster buses to the Lacovia High School in St Elizabeth. The grant is valued at $21 million and falls under the Japanese Embassy’s Grant Assistance for Grass Roots and Human Security Project.

Delivering the keynote address at the Ministry of Education and Youth in Kingston, Fujiwara added: “Through this framework, we can also contribute to the innovation, peace and stability of the international community.

“That is why our embassy continues to work in tandem with all stakeholders to provide improved resources to strengthen the educational and learning environment for all children, who are beacons of hope and possibility … . We believe that all students must have access to the critical resources that will foster their academic growth and development.”

The Grant Assistance for Grass Roots and Human Security Project supports critical areas such as health and emergency-care response, agriculture, community development and education.

The two vehicles will go a far way in alleviating the transportation woes of the more than 1,200 students, Lacovia High School principal Ricardo Bennett told The Gleaner.

GRATEFUL FOR TIMELY DONATION

“We are most grateful for this donation. It comes at a time when we are going through a pandemic and many schools have been adversely affected, re the challenges with transportation. Many of our students are from deep, rural communities, so the acquisition of these buses at this time will alleviate many of the challenges that we currently face,” he explained.

Bennett further pointed out that while the primary purpose of the bus will be to transport students from home to school and back, it will also make a big difference when they have to go on field trips, sporting events and various other activities.

“It will really help to cut down on transportation costs,” he said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Education and Youth Fayval Williams admitted that the Government’s rural bus programme does not yet meet the full demand that exists across the education sector.

“Transportation in rural Jamaica continues to be a safety risk for students and staff. As it is with a number of rural schools, students have to travel long distances without the requisite infrastructure like we have here in the city.

“We know that students who live outside of Kingston and St Andrew pay quite a lot for transportation. When you look at the studies that have been done and the cost of school to parents, at the top of the list is transportation, and so this gift is a welcomed donation,” she said.