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Come January 2010, the Ministry of Education will roll out a multi-million dollar Career Advancement Programme (CAP), which will ensure that students leaving secondary school are literate and numerate, and have some form of technical and vocational qualification for post-secondary placement.
Phase one of the initiative, budgeted to cost $82 million will cater to 2,000 students age 16 to 18 years, and will be rolled out in 11 high schools, with the addition of two senior grades (12 and 13) in the targeted institutions to facilitate the programme.
Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, who provided details of the project in the House of Representatives yesterday (December 15), said that CAP aims primarily, to stem the problem of youth being unattached because of inadequate education and skills.
According to the Education Minister, some 26,000 students leave secondary school without any form of qualification each year. Last year, from the cohort of 51,676 students, only 40,690 were enrolled in school, and of this number some 10,986 left the school system at grade nine.
Moreover, he lamented, 9,086 young people would not have sat any form of examination and some 6,004 failed all Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate (CSEC) subjects.
The intention is to reverse this trend by broadening students’ knowledge base and helping them to make appropriate subject choices and in the final two years, under CAP “they can move that knowledge into a skill that will get them into a career. That’s the strategy behind it,” Minister Holness stated.
Students will benefit from diagnostic aptitude and capability assessment; career counselling; a mix of school and work-based apprenticeship; and classes outside of the regular school hours. The final stage of the programme involves career orientation and job placement.
The 11 schools, which will participate in the pilot are: Herbert Morrison Technical High in St. James; Kemps Hill Comprehensive High in Clarendon; Haile Selassie, St. Anne’s, St. Vincent Strambi, Edith Dalton James, and Penwood high schools in Kingston; Morant Bay High, St. Thomas; and Charlemont, Dinthill, and Bogwalk High, in St. Catherine.
Mr. Holness explained that the intention is to have the programme become a standard feature of the education system “(but) we could not implement the programme in one go, because there are many unquantified variables.”
“We decided to go with selected schools where they have already started a similar programme, where they have under-capacity, and where they have technical capacity, so that we could test to see what variations to the programme will be needed when we decide to go full-scale,” he explained.
The CAP is being implemented in partnership with the HEART Trust NTA, the National Youth Service (NYS), the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL), and the National Transformation Programme. Persons will receive certification from HEART upon successfully completing their course of study.
It is being facilitated under the Compulsory Education Policy (CEP), which is currently being developed, and will seek to ensure that all children from age three to 18, are attached to, and are attending structured learning and training programmes.
The HEART’s School Leavers Programme, and the NYS’ Placement Programme, are being reviewed to create greater synergies and to assist CAP. The review is to be completed by February 2010.

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