“We need another 5,000 good secondary school places in Montego Bay, to prevent the shift system where it exists, and to avoid children having to travel long, long distances to get a good education. That was what encouraged us to develop the Montpelier campus for Anchovy High School, which will be opened in January,” the Minister told JIS News, while on a tour of several educational institutions in St. James on December 5.
The Montpelier facility was built in the late 1970s by the Government of Cuba as an agricultural school. However, the gift school was not used for that purpose by the government of the day. After laying fallow for a number of years, It was later used as a base for members of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), before it became a centre where Haitian refugees were housed ahead of their return to their country.
Following representation by Member of Parliament Derrick Kellier for the facility to be used as a second campus of the Anchovy High School which is overcrowded and on shift, the education minister immediately responded and instructed NET to make plans for its transformation and upgrading.
The Minister noted that added capacity had been provided at 33 other schools during the past year, so that students could have more contact hours and take part in extra-curricular activities.
“Government’s long range plan is to develop a new school in Montego Bay, which will allow a place like St. James High School, which has a particular challenge in that it’s on shift in very limited accommodation, not to be as congested, but to be able to offer better education to those who are enrolled there,” Rev. Thwaites said.
At Cornwall College, the Minister held discussions with Principal and some members of staff on plans for that institution.
“We are looking at the development of a Centre of Excellence for their Sixth Form students, which will allow for the broadening of their curriculum beyond the classic humanities and natural sciences, to undertake the hospitality trade and greater language training, because there is a need for persons with language skills,” Rev. Thwaites said.