The new Marlie Hill Basic School, which serves the community of Bellfield and surrounding areas in deep rural St. Catherine, is one of the proud legacy projects of Jamaica 50.
Threatened by land slippage at its previous location and with little room for expansion, the institution was relocated to the grounds of the Marlie Hill Primary, the school that produced Jamaica’s first female Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller.
The new school is one of nine early childhood centres that the Culture, Health, Arts, Sport and Education (CHASE) Fund is building as Jamaica 50 Legacy Projects. So far, four of the nine have been completed and the others are at various stages of completion, according to the Chief Executive Officer of CHASE, W. Billy Heaven.
The others are Middlesex Basic School in Holland Bamboo, St. Elizabeth; Church of Christ Basic School in Gayle, St. Mary; Friendship Infant School, Westmoreland (opened in September); Banister Basic School, Old Harbour, St. Catherine; Ebenezer Basic School, Trinityville, St. Thomas; Rock River Basic School, Clarendon; Little Einstein Learning Centre, Seaview Gardens, Kingston; and Straun Basic School, Christiana, Manchester.
All will be transformed into first rate educational facilities with all the amenities to deliver quality education to the children.
Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, under whose portfolio the legacy projects fall, says every generation wants to leave a legacy for the next.
“While we were doing Jamaica 50, one of the things that was critical, apart from the celebratory aspect of it, apart from getting involved in the traditions and getting involved in the special moment of being independent, politically and otherwise, we wanted to make sure that our generation is able to leave something that, come 50 years later, would have said, ‘this is what Jamaica 50 represented’,” Ms. Hanna tells JIS News.
She says that the Jamaica 50 Legacy Committee, in their deliberations, recognized that education was one of the best legacies that “we could actually put down and give roots in our country.”
Ms. Hanna sees the Marlie Hill School as a fitting legacy project for a deep rural community that nurtured and produced the country’s first female Prime Minister. She also revealed that two more schools are expected to be opened soon.
In total, 20 legacy projects were identified, inclusive of the nine basic schools. According to CHASE, the projects were carefully selected to represent sustainable legacies in the areas of education, heritage, infrastructure, culture, sports, academic endeavours, literature and the arts.
The projects include the Jamaica International Sculpture Symposium; Jamaica Music Symposium; Rocky Point Community Cultural Centre; Book on Historical Sites in Kingston; Jamaica Heritage in Pictures; Establishment of a Monument for Portmore; Time Capsule to Commemorate Jamaica at 50; redevelopment of National Heroes Park; and a Jamaica 50 legacy documentary encapsulating the national and international celebration, among others.
Ms. Hanna explains that many of the projects are “in train” and significant progress is being made towards their completion.
She informs that the Jamaica 50 legacy documentary and video produced by the Creative Production and Training Centre (CPTC) has been completed and is now being reviewed.
The two-day Jamaica Music Symposium, which was held under the theme: ‘The business of Jamaica’s cultural Industries’ at the Institute of Jamaica in March was a success; and the Jamaica Heritage in Pictures publication has been completed and is now available in bookstores. The publication was produced by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT), which is also compiling the list for the erection of 50 commemorative Sites of Memory Plaques across the country.
The Rocky Point Community Cultural Centre is completed and is scheduled to be officially handed over to the community shortly; and $5 million has been approved for the establishment of a monument in Portmore. This project is being implemented by the Roads and Works Department of the Portmore Municipal Council and the materials are being sourced to carry out the project.
Ms. Hanna says the projects will serve as a reminder of the celebration of Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of independence and as a signal of the priorities for national development for the next 50 years.
“We want to leave a legacy that is better for the generation that is coming after us. For those of us who have children, we want to make sure that anything that we do in this world is an example, and a testament for our children …. so that in times going forward, they will say that we did something well,” she tells JIS News.
By Andrea Braham