KINGSTON — He has no timeline and shortage of money is an obvious constraint, but Education Minister Ronnie Thwaites says Government is actively contemplating a bus system for schoolchildren across the island.
“At the last Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Simpson Miller enjoined (Omar) Davies (minister of transport) and myself to begin to work out a programme to assist transportation of students,” Thwaites told a student awards ceremony in Myersville, South East St Elizabeth recently.
But he added a qualifying note, saying that such a programme “will take some time”.
In a subsequent telephone interview, Thwaites said that while need for a comprehensive school bus service was “obviously urgent”, it was “impossible” to provide a timeline given the various considerations which include scarce resources.
The education minister’s comments at the ceremony were in response to a strident appeal by Member of Parliament for SE St Elizabeth Richard Parchment for greater attention to the transportation needs of rural-based high school students.
“When all is said and done we (should) not expect the hard-working parents of South East St Elizabeth to continue to work and pay taxes, to support a bus system that takes Corporate Area children to school, and we can’t find the money to send our children to school,” Parchment told parents, students, teachers, and guests at the awards ceremony.
“We as a nation we will have to work to develop a rural bus (system) even (if it is only) for the schools,” he added.
Parchment’s Constituency Development Fund provided $1 million for the back-to-school event, which saw 50 Grade Six Achievement Test high achievers from primary schools in the constituency each receiving $20,000 to assist with expenses as they enter high school. The awardees were selected by their school principals according to criteria including academic performance and perceived need. (Observer)