School upgrade leads to improved student performance in Jamaica

It’s a makeover that is transforming lives and stimulating pride in 1,200 Jamaican students.

At the Christiana Moravian Primary and Infant School, there were once as many as 46 students to one teacher in some classes. Now 10 new classrooms, the renovation of two existing school buildings and student bathrooms, and new programmes and materials have not only alleviated problems of overcrowding but are also enhancing the lives of students.

“It’s a true reflection of their commitment to the holistic development of a school that was in dire need of intervention,” said Principal, Kamille Lee Madden of the upgrades made possible through a collaboration between the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF) of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF).

The newly constructed building, part of the Christiana Moravian Primary and Infant School rehabilitation and expansion project.

The Principal credits both funds with leaving an indelible mark on the school community through socially progressive programs such as the Special Education Needs Coordinators Training Project; the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Programme (WASH) and the Literacy and Numeracy Project (LNP).

Through LNP, the school received teaching and learning aids to support the math and language curriculum, and academic staff participated in intensive training.  As a result, students’ performance in national examinations improved, the school surpassed the national average for literacy, and there has been a marked improvement in numeracy.

Knowledge gained through WASH led to the creation of an action plan intended to address sanitation and hygiene issues within the school’s environment, and it stirred creativity among staff and students.  In addition to creating Squeaky, a mascot who reminds students to “WASH”, they reworked “Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica”, a popular song, with new lyrics “nuh dutty up di school yaad.”

A student from the Christiana Moravian Primary & Infant School uses the newly refurbished bathrooms.

Improvements made within the school’s Special Education Unit were particularly notable, with significant increases in the numbers of special education students reaching mastery levels in literacy and numeracy.

“Thank you for believing that even students with learning disabilities can learn, and for giving them the opportunity to shine and boost their self-confidence and self-worth,” Lee Madden said.

“Christiana Moravian Primary and Infant School [has] experienced a paradigm shift with a renewed pride, rebirth of our school and sense of belonging to not just a school but to our community,” she said.

Financing for the rehabilitation and expansion of the Christiana Moravian Primary and Infant School was approved through the seventh cycle of BNTF.  The Fund supports institutional and socially inclusive development that empowers the poor and vulnerable. 

“Education is one of the most effective tools in the fight against poverty,” said George Yearwood, Acting Portfolio Manager, BNTF, “so the Caribbean Development Bank remains committed to supporting projects that enhance the learning environment and opportunities of our Region’s youth.  An investment in them is an investment in our future.”

Since its inception in 1979, BNTF has contributed to poverty reduction in 10 of the Bank’s borrowing member countries, and positively impacted the lives of over 3 million people in poor and under-served communities.