JIS News

Students at the Brown’s Town High School in St. Ann have embarked on a chair production project to assist that institution, and others, in remedying any shortage of furniture, which may be experienced during the new school year.
The programme, which started some four months ago, saw some of the students from the metal work and welding department, working tirelessly over the summer holidays to produce 60 new desks and chairs for the reopening of school.
Terrence Perry, metal work and welding instructor, tells JIS News that there are plans to expand the project to include the making of grills for the windows and doors of the institution, as well as bathroom fixtures, towel racks and metal stands for flower-pots and coal stoves, which will be sold to the wider community. During the summer holidays, the students produced 20 grills and gates for the school.
He says the students are enthusiastic about the project and have practically outfitted the department, making items such as a jig, screws, nuts, bolts and clamps. “Suffice it to say, this year, for the first time, five students sat for Metal Work and Welding in the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) Examination, and three of them were successful,” he says proudly.
The chair production project is one of the initiatives under the institution’s Students Empowerment and Vocational Development Programme, which is designed to expose students to practical activities and different vocational areas, through which they can learn a life-long skill.
“Students, who were not academically oriented, needed to be catered to in another way, therefore, the school is on a drive to prepare the students for the world at work,”Mr. Perry points out.
School principal, Winfield Murray, explains that under the empowerment programme, the vocational departments identify a product that is in demand in the marketplace, and develop skills in manufacturing the product. The aim is to get the students to enjoy the process, while at the same time earning some money.
He notes that as part of the initiative, the agriculture department will be focusing on a pepper project, the home economics department will venture into pastry, while the plumbing section has started the production of solar water heaters, which will help persons to save money by using less electricity.
“So the plumbing department has experimented on the possibility of the water heater, and will be expanding this project to sell to the community and encourage more persons to use solar energy,” he tells JIS News.
Meanwhile, the business department will market the items produced and give students practical experience in business development.
Mr. Murray says that each department will ensure that standards are maintained in terms of weight, size, “proper packaging and labeling, and whatever is necessary in the execution of good business practice”.
Commenting on the chair making project, the principal says he is proud of the students, who worked hard during the holiday to produce the items, which have helped to address the shortage at furniture at the institution.
“What the welding department did also, was to take some of the single chairs and place arms on them to create the desk and chair combination, so I feel very pleased about this project and I am using it as an example for other areas,” he states.
He informs JIS News that orders for similar furniture, have been coming in from other schools. “A number of schools in the parish have called in placing their orders for chairs. One school said they want 50 chairs by the end of this week so this means the department will have to organize two to three shifts in order to prepare for these orders,” he points out.
Joyce Wilson, work experience teacher at the institution, tells JIS News that the programme has been beneficial in terms of fitting students to their areas of interest and allowing them to excel. She says the programme serves to empower the students.
“The institution gives these students the opportunity to work in an area during the summer holidays, where they can make chairs and tables, and do some general maintenance work on the school compound, where they could earn something, so that they could assist their parents to prepare them for back to school, and to me this is empowerment,” she points out.

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