Fire-ravaged Armadale Girls Home now an education centreSaturday, September 25, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Armadale Juvenile Correctional Centre in St Ann is best known for the 2009 fire in which five of the girls died and the home destroyed by fire.
But on Wednesday, Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS), Zavia Mayne, informed the House of Representatives that the St Ann premises is now the home of the Alexandria College of Continuing Education, located in his South West St Ann constituency.
“I am also proud that 180 trainees will graduate from the Alexandria College of Continuing Education this November in various skill disciplines to support our local job market,” Mayne, who is in his second term as MP for the constituency, told the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
Mayne reminded the House that the Alexandria College is the former Armadale Girls Home, which was destroyed by fire some 12 years ago.
“Madam Speaker, we were able to rehabilitate this facility with the support of the Ministry of Education, and it now serves as a campus for learning and training for youths within the constituency,” he explained, noting that continued support for the institution has come from HEART/NSTA, but there is still need for additional support.
After the fire, then Prime Minister Bruce Golding ordered Armadale closed and an investigation into what caused the fire at the all-female institution launched. The 45 survivors, aged 13-16, were temporarily housed at the Stony Hill Heart Academy in St Andrew and the Horizon Remand Centre in West Kingston, until they all were moved into the Diamond Crest Villa in Alligator Pond, Manchester.
Mayne said that the education sector in South West St Ann has been hard hit by the current pandemic, and, like most schools in the deep remote areas, lack broadband access, and are dependent on printing the content of lessons and delivering it to the homes of students.
However, Mayne said that in some places where there is access, there is also a lack devices and that, in many households, children have to share in order to obtain lessons.
“Despite this, Minister Williams must be encouraged by the output and dedication of our teachers there, who journey miles to ensure that children are participating. Our teachers continue to sacrifice, to ensure maximum inclusion of our students and for this we owe them a debt of gratitude,” he told the House.
He said that he was thankful to Williams that a commitment he made in 2016 has since been honoured, with the upgrade of the Aboukir Institute at the Aboukir High School.
“This September, the first cohort of students has been placed there making it the second high school in the constituency. This will reduce the travel distance of many students who journey several miles, sometimes across parishes, to access secondary education,” he said.
He noted that it will also reduce the overcrowding that has accumulated at the Aabuthnott Gallimore High School.
Mayne also pointed out that the education sector is now umbilically linked to the ICT sector, and the constituency is eagerly anticipating the roll out of the national broadband by Minister Daryl Vaz.
He said that places that will benefit include Battersea, which borders with Norwood, Grants Bailey, Linton Park, Hessen Castle, Douglas Castle, Grants Mountain, McKenzie, and Aboukir Woods, where not even cellular phones can pick up the Wi-Fi.
“It cannot be over emphasized the immediacy of this need. We are thankful for the tablets provided by the Universal Service Fund, and for the commitments given for community access points. We know the need is tremendous, but we are grateful that effort is being made to resolve this particular inequality,” Mayne said.