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New Negril school

Sandals Foundation, CHASE Fund partner to build $100-m infant facility

Observer West reporter

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Sandals Foundation and the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund have partnered on a $110 million project to construct a new infant school in West End, Negril, which will caters to160 children between the ages of three and six years old.

At yesterday's official opening of the facility, president of Sandals Foundation, Adam Stewart, expressed pride in seeing the project coming to fruition.

“To say we are proud today would be an understatement. I am absolutely proud of Sandals Foundation, I am proud of the Government of Jamaica, I am proud of the CHASE Fund and all of who have made this happen,” said Stewart, who is also deputy chairman and chief executive officer of Sandals Resorts International (SRI).

The newly constructed school has already met 98 per cent of the Early Childhood Commission's legal operations standards.

It comprises eight classrooms with adjacent resource rooms and bathrooms; a spacious kitchen and eating/recreation indoor area; a staffroom, sick bay and principal's office, as well as a large garden and modern playground.

The playground and all of the furniture and educational resources were donated by School Specialty, a major US supplier of school equipment and longtime partner of the Sandals Foundation, the charity arm of SRI.

Chief Executive Officer of CHASE Fund, William 'Billy' Heaven, was upbeat over the partnership with the Sandals Foundation in the undertaking of the project. He noted that it was uncustomary for the CHASE Fund, whose contribution was $48million, to be overmatched in a partnership.

“It was more than a one to one matching, I must say. We have $48million in a $111million project. It's not usual that CHASE is outnumbered, but we are happy for that trend. We are happy that we are setting a new trend at CHASE and we expect to work with Sandals going forward,” Heaven noted.

Stewart in the meantime, argued that the project epitomises sustainable tourism at work.

“ What greater connection could there be than taking care of, not just the team members who work in your enterprise, but taking care of your next of kin in education and their journey to self actualisation. What greater connection could there be than building a school right in the community,” he argued.

“Projects like this stand out to us. Projects like this want us to continue to do more.”

Meanwhile, Education Minister, Senator Ruel Reid, underscored the importance of early childhood education.

“This was a very important occasion for me to celebrate because it represents a policy shift of the Government. I think both Billy Heaven and Adam our CEO of Sandals, sum up quite very succinctly to you the importance of education and in particularly early childhood education,” Senator Reid remarked.

In the meantime, Stewart threw down the gauntlet to other tourism stakeholders to take a page out of Sandals' book.

“I would like to challenge all stakeholders in the tourism sector both local enterprises and the foreign brands, to get more involved in projects like this,” Stewart stressed.

He noted that the first five years in a child's life is very critical.

“Everybody knows that education is the way forward, but education cannot be the way forward if the roofs are leaking, if there are not basic sanitary conditions, if the kids are not comfortable and if the parents don't have peace of mind that their child is on great care while they are at work earning a living.”

Sandals Foundation's Executive Director Heidi Clarke, reiterated the foundation's commitment to supporting educational projects.

“Like CHASE, the Sandals Foundation recognises the importance of investing in early childhood education. We know that between the ages of three to six years young children are developing socially, intellectually, emotionally and physically, making this one of the most critical stages where the best care and the right learning environment will set the stage for future success,” Clarke stated.

This donation by the Sandals Foundation forms part of the foundation's longstanding focus on improving education in Jamaica and across the Caribbean islands in which Sandals operates through school upgrades, teacher training, enrichment programmes, book and school supply distribution, as well as secondary and tertiary scholarship opportunities.