GOVT launches $250m school sport infrastructure improvement project

Natalie Neita-Headley (second left); is engaged in an animated discussion with (from left); local government and community development minister, Noel Arscott; principal of Vere Technical Dr Henrietta Stewart; and permanent secretary in the ministry of agriculture and fisheries, Donovan Stanberry.
Natalie Neita-Headley (second left); is engaged in an animated discussion with (from left); local government and community development minister, Noel Arscott; principal of Vere Technical Dr Henrietta Stewart; and permanent secretary in the ministry of agriculture and fisheries, Donovan Stanberry.

Kingston, Jamaica – The government has signed an agreement that will see $250 million being pumped into the infrastructural development of 23 high schools and community based sporting facilities across the island.

The high school sports infrastructure improvement programme is being facilitated through the collaboration of the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), the ministries of education, agriculture and local government. The project will see schools in the parishes of Kingston and St Andrew, St Catherine, Portland, St James, St Elizabeth, Westmoreland, Clarendon, St Thomas and Trelawny benefitting over the next two years from improvement in their sporting facilities.

The programme will be funded by the Sports Development Foundation (SDF) which will provide $100 million, and the European Union sugar transformation programme, that will provide another $150 million.

Minister with responsibility for sport in the OPM Natalie Neita-Headley, signed the official agreement at a launching and commitment ceremony recently at the Vere Technical High School in Clarendon.

Natalie Neita Headley (centre); and minister of local government and community development Noel Arscott (third left); carefully sign the agreement documents that will facilitate the $250 million being pumped into the infrastructural development of 23 high schools.
Natalie Neita Headley (centre); and minister of local government and community development Noel Arscott (third left); carefully sign the agreement documents that will facilitate the $250 million being pumped into the infrastructural development of 23 high schools.

She noted that under the first phase of the project, the ministry of agriculture will be facilitating the development of sporting facilities in 13 schools which fall in areas under the EU sugar transformation programme.

Neita-Headley said the global acclaim that Jamaica is currently receiving for its athletic prowess, is just recognition for the hard work of its athletes. She noted however, that it was a process that started within the school and community infrastructure… “It started at the grass roots, in community leagues kicking football with juice boxes, on the street corners in communities without playgrounds, at schools with dirt tracks.”

Neita-Headley informed that following consultations with the ministry of education, ISSA and the council of principals, the decision was made to choose five from among the top 10 performing schools and five from the bottom 10, that would benefit from the programme.

“There is a need to ensure that the sporting infrastructures in schools across the country are upgraded so that students can truly grow where they are planted, not just in academics but also in sports. It is our responsibility to give every school a fighting chance to hold on to their own stars,” she said.

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