KINGSTON, Jamaica – PwC Jamaica through contributions of the partners and staff, recently donated JMD$604,000 to Holy Family Primary and Infant School (HFPIS) to undertake the cost of construction materials to retrofit two buildings – the grade 6 block and Sister Benedict Chung building – with stairwells, which is of paramount importance for the safety of the students and teachers alike.
Presently, in the event of an emergency, the school only has access to one stairwell for each building, which would pose challenges in getting the students and staff off the buildings safely. The need to upgrade these buildings was identified in 2012 by the National Educational Inspectorate. However, due to financial constraints, the institution had not been able to make inroads on this project until almost a decade later.
“Safety is a big thing in schools. Children must feel safe, teachers must feel safe, and I think that safety enhances the whole teaching and learning process,” stated Christopher Wright, principal at HFPIS. “For any school, when you come on to the compound there should be a feeling of safety. So, we are very grateful for the efforts of PricewaterhouseCoopers whose donation will cover a major portion of the costs of the stairwells. And I am looking forward to the continued partnership of PricewaterhouseCoopers in the development of the children that we serve here at Holy Family Primary and Infant School.”
For Bruce Scott, risk assurance leader at PwC Jamaica and alumnus of HFPIS, the development of the institution’s infrastructure was a need that could not be overlooked.
“Having a suitable space to learn is one of the most basic elements necessary to ensure access to education. Although the pandemic has shifted learning spaces for many, I’m sure that as a parent myself, teachers, families, and communities we expect formal education to take place in classrooms and institutions that have been designed for safety and comfort. So, with the anticipated return to full time face-to-face learning and knowledge that this project to reduce the safety risk of the students has been in the pipeline for almost ten years, it became a priority for not only me but for my colleagues as well. So, I am delighted that we can contribute to enhanced safety of the institution so that these students can climb those stairs with confidence and absorb the great knowledge that the hardworking teachers impart,” stated Scott.
Infrastructure problems in schools are generally known to not only affect academic performance, but also infringe on access to education, the safety and health of learners and of teachers, and may even impact learners’ dropout rates and low-teachers retention rates.
Julia Edwards, education officer for region one in the ministry of education and youth, highlighted the importance of stakeholder partnerships in the success of national education.
“Here at Holy Family Primary and Infant School, we have a set of highly qualified, highly motivated staff whom we would like to stay here and continue to build up our boys and girls,” stated Edwards. “But of course, we must make the space comfortable for them, comfortable for the students and other persons who will access these facilities. Therefore, we are grateful for this partnership because certainly it is through stakeholder partnerships that education moves,” concluded Edwards.
Since 2020, PwC Jamaica has been working closely with HFPIS to assist where possible with the development of the school. In fact, prior to a donation of tablets in December 2020 and a Christmas treat held for students and staff in December 2021, Bruce Scott, risk assurance leader at PwC Jamaica also generously held a 7-week course on personal financial freedom for the staff. The course was designed to empower the staff financially.