Canadians help build school in Jamaica


Raymond Chang painting the school

The new Accompong Basic School which is funded by Grand Jamaica Homecoming 2012 out of Canada and the Raymond Chang Foundation, opened its doors this week. 


According to the President of Jamaica Homecoming Canada (JHC), Donette Chin-Loy Chang, the building of the school is replete with history and great meaning, as the original school, built 50 years ago by the women of Accompong had deteriorated over the years.


“This is an everlasting gift that we have left for the community of Accompong…we are excited and privileged to play a small part in the education of future generations of Jamaicans,” she said.


In the keynote address, Rev. Ronald Thwaites, Minister of Education, charged parents in the community to become more involved with the well-being and education of their children, stating that government cannot do it alone.  He advised that savings should be a priority and parents need to start putting aside whatever funds they are able, for the future of their children.


Douglas Orane, honorary Patron of the Advisory Council for Grand Jamaica Homecoming 2012, reiterated the importance of early childhood education.  Referring to the seminal work of Nobel Prize winner Dr. James Heckman, Orane noted, “It is ironic that it has taken an economist to elaborate on a principle that sociologists have known for a long time.  What he has demonstrated is that investment in early-childhood education not only creates a better educated person, but has spin-off effects in terms of better coping skills, mastery of language, better family dynamics, reducing anti-social behaviour among young people on reaching adulthood, and a host of other benefits to society.”


And in keeping with Maroon tradition, Deputy Colonel Norma Rowe-Edwards stated that education has been a strong belief amongst the Maroons.  “We are making history today, another milestone in the annals of our Accompong Maroon journey. Our ancestors established the Accompong Basic School immediately after the treaty was signed and so we greatly appreciate what Food For The Poor and our sponsors have provided for our children.”

Food For The Poor Canada, Executive Director Samantha Mahfood stated that the organization gets its work done only with funds and donations from supporters.   “I ask you, the corporate leaders of Jamaica here today to continue to help us to work in Jamaica; help us to get the support of other Jamaican corporations and individuals to invest in the children that will one day work in your organizations, and lead your country”.


According to Andrew Mahfood, Chairman of Food For The Poor Jamaica, the building of the Accompong Basic School is the 9th in the series of the 50 /50 campaign – a partnership of Food For the Poor and the Ministry of Education – to build 50 basic schools as part of the celebrations of Jamaica’s 50th year of independence. 


The Accompong Basic School has also been added to the list of schools that will be adopted by members of P.A.C.E. – Project for the Advancement of Childhood Education – a Canadian Jamaican organization.


For the Grand Jamaica Homecoming 2012 team and its Advisory Council members who attended the opening, this was a wonderful beginning to their dream of ‘coming home’ and giving forward to the land they love.