Back in 2019, before Covid, the Vestry was planning a mission trip to Jamacia, with the intent of carrying needed supplies to the people there.
Whether or not travel will be possible later this summer, all of us at St Peter’s have the opportunity to provide needed school supplies to the 330 children of the Victoria School, Andrea’s elementary school. As Andrea has said, “Being able to make a positive difference for an institution that has made a positive difference in your life is deeply rewarding and meaningful.”
Andrea is working on the logistics of how we will collect supplies for the current students of this school. You will be hearing more about that part of the project soon.
Meanwhile, here’s some information about the school itself, written by its principal.
Victoria Primary School, formerly Victoria All-Age is located in North West St. Catherine about two (2) miles from the major town of Linstead in the farming community of Victoria. Victoria, along with the adjoining community of Banbury, where most of the children are from, has a populace of over 20, 0000. Approximately 10 % of the adult population is dependent on farming for a living, some of the produce from this activity is sold at the Linstead Market and the remainder kept for domestic use. Another 30% depends on vending as their main means of livelihood, 40% is employed while the remaining 20% is unemployed.
The current parent population is very young with the average age being about 25 years. Most of them have attained secondary level of education but have not moved on to tertiary learning but instead have acquired a skill in order to become employable.
The school was originally a shift school. It was built to house about 200 children. However, to date the number has increased with the current school populace being 323. The enrolment at the start of school year 2019-2020 was 348; Boys-215: Girls: 133 along with fourteen members of staff inclusive of the Principal and a Guidance Counsellor. There is also a physical education teacher, secretary and one assistant who is a past student who are paid by the school.
Classroom space that was designed to hold one (1) class has been transformed into two (2) classrooms. The school plant is in a relatively good condition with some repainting done at the beginning of school year 2019-2020.
Our greatest need at this time is to have the school completely fenced in order to ensure the safety and security of all our stakeholders. To date the school is 85% fenced with a perimetre wall erected around the compound. This was made possible through the efforts of the school board, parents, past students and fund raising ventures put on by the school.
At the beginning of each school year, some parents often have financial challenges in purchasing items to send their children back to school. Some of these include the purchasing of school bags, writing books, pencils and uniforms etc. There are times when past students will assist in purchasing some of these items.
The school has a modified library, canteen, computer room and a Sick Bay. There is also a multipurpose court replacing an area where we previously had a modified playing field. The multipurpose court was made possible through the efforts of the pervious principal and the S.D.F (Sports Development Foundation). It is sometimes used by members of the community on weekends. As a part of its Mission Statement, the school aims to provide a balanced environment to enable each student to maximize his or her highest potential. Thus, the school takes part in several internal and external co-curricular activities. These include 4-H, football and cricket competitions, Bible Quiz and the JCDC speech and traditional folkform Competitions.
Ninety percent (90%) of the staff holds a first degree in their specialized area of training and another (60%) have their master’s degree. The school has an average daily attendance of over 80% . This is due to having almost half of the population on the PATH (Programme for the Advancement Through Health and Education) programme. This is a government funded programmme where students are given free lunches 5 days per week. This is primarily due to the level of unemployment among some parents in the community. Every Wednesday morning the students are fed cornmeal porridge as part of our breakfast programme. This is made possible through donations received from Food for the Poor and past students.
School management and governance is of paramount importance at Victoria Primary School. The school has an active Board comprising of the chairman; Rev. Luke Shaw and community representative.
The school enjoys a good relationship with the community. Parents and teachers get a chance to interact at events such as our annual fundraising Barbeque, Sports Day, Parent Month activities, Class and General PTA Meetings or any event they are asked to attend. The school also hosts events such as graduation at churches in the community. Church members are also invited to conduct devotional exercises on a regular basis and also to share at our Boys and Girls Day activities. Support from the wider business community has also been good. As such, as a school, we have forged a healthier relationship between the school and the wider business community and past students both locally and abroad.