Principal of Free Hill Primary and Infant School, Martin Murphy said the establishment of a Resource Room at his school represents a new day for students and teachers at the rural St Mary-based institution. Mr Murphy is hoping that the resource room which was opened at the school last Tuesday, February 10, will enhance the literacy performance among his students. The resource room, fully air conditioned and equipped with four computers, printer, Internet connection, desk, chairs and filing cabinet, was officially handed over to the school by members of the Issa Trust Foundation and US-based group American Friends of Jamaica. The facility was built and furnished by Issa Trust Foundation at a cost of US$15,000 through funding provided by American Friends of Jamaica. Speaking to the North Coast Times following the handing over ceremony, Mr. Murphy explained that a special programme will be installed on the computers, noting that he now expects that the students entered for the Grade Four Literacy and Numeracy exams as well as the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) will produce better results. “We are hoping that we will see significant improvement, in particularly the literacy rate, we are operating at 68 per cent and, I am sure, with the teacher who will be dedicated to the students here, we should be experiencing improvement,” Mr Murphy explained.
“The idea is to pull the children from the regular classes at intervals and this teacher, we hope the Ministry (Ministry of Education) will provide for us, will be a specialist in literacy, and so they will be able to improve so we will see that reflected in our grade four and in our GSAT results.” The principal added: “Right now we are trying our best to get hooked up with the Ministry of Education tablet in schools programme because they have soft ware that they currently use in selected schools so we are in dialogue with them to see how best we can have that level of assistance for the students here.”Mr Murphy said before the opening of the resource room students had not been exposed to the use of computers at school. “So this today is almost a new day for us,” he said. “For a start we are going to concentrate on the examination children, those who are in grade four and those who are in grade six, those who are not performing, that’s the group that we will be concentrating on.” He continued: “From time to time all children will be exposed but our major area of concentration will be on our examination kids.”
SECURITY HELP NEEDED
The principal has also appealed to the Ministry of Education to help with the security at the school which has suffered several break ins. He wants the investment in the resource room to be protected.Chairman of Issa Trust Foundation, Paul Issa, during a tour of the facility after it was officially handed over to the school’s principal, said six more computers are to BE added to the facility.
During his address at the opening ceremony, Mr Issa said while Issa Trust Foundation has been focussing on pediatric health care, there is now a need for focus to be placed on education. “What we try to do is identify needs in the communities where we operate our hotels and do our best to select some of those needs and address them and that’s what we try to do here with this resource room,” Mr. Issa said. He explained that with the resource room now in place, it will better help slower performing students.Former US ambassador to Jamaica, Sue Cobb who is a chartered member of American Friends of Jamaica, said the group was happy to help because of the opportunities it would provide to the students. She commented the leadership of the school and said the project was made possible because of the type of leadership of its principal. Senior education officer, Cinderella Allen, who represented education minister Rev Ronald Thwaites expressed gratitude to Issa Trust Foundation and American Friends of Jamaica for its effort in making the resource room a reality. Free Hill Primary and Infant School has a population of 368 students drawn from various communities including Oracabessa, Jacks River, Geddes Town, Port Maria and Bailey’s Vale. There are 16 teachers including a guidance counsellor. Mr Murphy said while students continue to excel in not just academic but sporting and other extracurricular activities, including speech and drama, the school needs additional support. He pointed to a lack of parental support which he said affects some areas of the school.
He said efforts are being made to get a multiple purpose play area where children can compete in inter class and inter school competitions. He said Issa Trust Foundation has also offered to help with that project.