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The Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture is moving to create a “centre of excellence programme” among selected traditional, technical and vocational high schools in Kingston.
The project is designed to enhance learning by creating a cluster of schools and moving students among the schools, so that they can benefit from exposure to different subject areas and skills and profit from the exchange of ideas to enhance learning.
According to Minister of Education, Youth and Culture, Maxine Henry Wilson, the corporate area schools selected to participate in the programme are Kingston Technical High; Holy Trinity Comprehensive High; Wolmer’s High School for Girls; Wolmer’s High School for Boys; Kingston College; Charlie Smith Comprehensive High; Trench Town Comprehensive High; St. Anne’s Secondary; St. George’s College; Denham Town Comprehensive High; Tivoli Gardens Comprehensive; and St. Andrew Technical High.
The Minister, who was addressing an awards banquet hosted by the alumni of the Kingston Technical High School at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on November 4, informed that a pilot model was tested among 17 traditional high and technical/vocational schools in the parishes of St. Elizabeth and Westmoreland at a cost of $47 million.
That model saw the upgrading of infrastructure, equipment and laboratories in the institutions, and allowed for the movement of students within schools in the two parishes, where, in additional to the traditional subjects, they were exposed to vocational areas such as carpentry, industrial science, or cosmetology.
She explained that the students were moved around “because it was not possible for [the Ministry] to fund the programme to the extent where every school had the same combination of skills that were offered.”
Outlining the importance of exposing students from traditional high schools to vocational and technical subjects, the Education Minister asserted that given the dynamic shift in the global economy towards multitasking, “we can no longer prepare our young people the way we did, even 10 years ago. We want the products of our education system to be critical thinkers, problem solvers, team players and excellent communicators, [as opposed] to being just rote learners or rote performers.”
Minister Henry Wilson stressed that “it is critical that vocational education and training become the direct means of providing workers with skills,” further adding that, “it is true that over the years, TVET (Technical Vocational Education and Training) programmes were perceived by some as inferior, but it has now all been rethought and reformulated and technical and vocational education is an integral part of the offerings of the best schools and the best students.”
The Education Minister cited the example of Ardenne student, Daniel Thomas, who emerged as the first place student in the Caribbean Council Examinations (CXC), scoring ten grade ones, three of which were for vocational subjects.
Pointing to the alliance to be forged between the traditional and technical and vocational schools in Kingston, she noted that “we selected that cluster of schools because we think that they can learn from each other in terms of academic excellence.they can teach each other positive work and study habits by developing peer groups between them.” Meanwhile, Minister Henry Wilson lauded the achievements of Kingston Technical High School, noting that the 108 year-old institution had produced graduates who have made stellar contribution to the country.
She encouraged the past students to strengthen their ties with the school even further, by seeking out opportunities to act as mentors to the present student population.
During the function, awards were presented to five distinguished former students. The honourees were: Trevor Shaw, Director of Surveys and Mapping at the National Land Agency; Dr. Ian Blair, Senior Vice President of Operations and Development at the Port Authority of Jamaica; Victor Hamilton, chartered accountant; Victor Hunter, retired customs officer and Carmen Tipling, Chief Executive Officer of the Jamaica Information Service.