Going beyond just giving financial resources, philanthropist Ray Chang picked up a paint brush and helped put some finishing touches on the Accompong Basic School that opened in Jamaica last week. Funded by the Ray Chang Foundation and financial resources raised through Jamaica Homecoming Canada initiatives last year to mark Jamaica’s 50th independence anniversary, the new school has been added to the list of educational institutions that will be adopted by Project for the Advancement of Childhood Education (PACE) supporters. “Education levels the playing field,” said Chang, a Ryerson university chancellor emeritus. “We must therefore invest in educating our children from an early age. It’s the only way that a community and country will pull itself up and survive long-term.” Chang’s wife, Donnette Chin-Loy, was the president of Jamaica Homecoming Canada that was formed to – among other things – promote and provide support for educational, cultural and philanthropic endeavours in Jamaica and further encourage a greater generosity of giving by Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica. “We are so pleased to be able to, through the building of the Accompong Basic School, help in the education of our next group of business leaders, heroes and citizens of Jamaica,” said Chin-Loy. “This is an everlasting gift that we have left for the community of Accompong. We are so excited and privileged to play a small part in the education of future generations of Jamaicans. We will forever be connected to the children of this community.” In the keynote address, Jamaica’s Education Minister, Rev. Ronald Thwaites, encouraged parents in the community to become more involved in the education and well-being of their kids. He also pointed out that education is critical to a nation’s success. “Nothing is going to happen to develop Jamaica as much as education,” said Thwaites. “Every Jamaican must be given a chance to learn and get a skill. We must do it right the first time and give basic school education the priority that it needs.” Located in the hills of St. Elizabeth in western Jamaica, Accompong is a Maroon village consolidated by a 1739 peace treaty signed at the nearby “Peace Cave”. “This is another milestone in the annals of the Accompong Maroon journey,” said the Maroon village deputy colonel, Norma Rowe-Edwards. Chin-Loy said three individuals have already stepped forward to sponsor the new school.