ORACABESSA Primary School in St Mary will be getting a new bus, valued approximately $8.4 million, under the Government of Japan’s Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project.
An agreement for the provision was signed by Education Minister Senator Ruel Reid, and Japan’s Ambassador to Jamaica Hiromasa Yamakazi, at the Office of the Prime Minister on Wednesday.
Senator Reid said the donation was timely and welcomed, in light of the need for a bus to provide dedicated transportation at Oracabessa Primary, which has a student population of more than 900.
The National Education Trust (NET), which falls under the ministry, will oversee the procurement process for the bus.
The minister said the Japanese Government remains a “very valuable partner” in the administration’s quest to further improve Jamaica’s education system.
“The Grassroots Programme is indicative of your own understanding of the value of education in improving the life chances of people (and) economy of nations,” he added.
Senator Reid, at the same time, reiterated his vision of developing a comprehensive national school bus system, noting that the Japanese Government’s support would help to lay the foundation for realising this.
“We need about 1,000 buses to cover schools (across) Jamaica. I have that particular aspiration, not only for safety, but to get our students to school on time and in a managed and regulated way,” Senator Reid said.
He reassured that students on the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education will benefit from the proposed school bus service.
In his remarks, Ambassador Yamazaki said the Government of Japan welcomed the opportunity to partner with the Ministry of Education to provide the bus for Oracabessa Primary School.
He said his country’s administration believes that all students must have access to the critical resources which will foster their academic growth and development.
“Japan and Jamaica share the view that no country can develop effectively without investing in its people. We also believe that no valuable citizen should not be left behind in the process. Such a concept is embodied as human security in the Overseas Assistance Policy of the Government of Japan,” the ambassador indicated.
Yamazaki said the provision of the bus was consistent with Japan’s Official Development Assistance Programme which focuses on protecting and empowering vulnerable persons, including young children.
“In this regard, the people and the Government of Japan saw the need to provide funding support to the school bus transportation system for students and teachers at Oracabessa, which, by and large, will support the development of Jamaica’s education endeavour,” he said.
Oracabessa Primary Principal Gregory Davis also welcomed the donation of the bus which he said will go a far way in alleviating challenges which a number of the youngsters experience in commuting.
“Our school has students, many of whom come from far rural areas in the hills where transportation is a problem. So the grant (to provide the bus) is quite timely as it will assist many of the needy students to come to school on a more regular basis,” he said
In 2015, the Embassy of Japan in Jamaica and the NET forged a partnership to collaborate on education development projects aimed at meeting the needs of primary schools islandwide.
Under this arrangement, the NET identifies schools in need of critical assistance and submits the information to the embassy for consideration and support under the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project.