- The HEART/NSTA Trust, in keeping with the health and safety stipulations set by the Government in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, has conducted its programmes using a mixed modality.
- Speaking with JIS News, Managing Director of the HEART/NSTA Trust, Dr. Janet Dyer, says the agency, as at February 25, has 225 of its programmes that are done using this method.
- “So, theoretical components, those are done online and then we schedule the practical, following the protocols for the pandemic. For those persons who are participating in the programme…I would say the programmes are going well so far,” Dr. Dyer says.
The HEART/NSTA Trust, in keeping with the health and safety stipulations set by the Government in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, has conducted its programmes using a mixed modality.
Speaking with JIS News, Managing Director of the HEART/NSTA Trust, Dr. Janet Dyer, says the agency, as at February 25, has 225 of its programmes that are done using this method.
“So, theoretical components, those are done online and then we schedule the practical, following the protocols for the pandemic. For those persons who are participating in the programme…I would say the programmes are going well so far,” Dr. Dyer says.
“We do have some challenges with persons who do not have the equipment. Because, there are some persons who have the phone and sometimes the phone can be a challenge to manoeuvre to remain in the classes. But for those persons who have the equipment it is going good,” she adds.
Dr. Dyer notes that the new way of doing things has been a learning curve for the agency, as “we have always said that classes must be done face-to-face and practicals must be done face-to-face”.
“We are now realising that a blended modality is the way we should go. It allows us to impact more people, because the student that I would have coming in five days per week, I can now have two groups, where one group would come three days for practicals, do the theory online and another group comes two days for practicals, and do their theory online,” the Managing Director says.
Dr. Dyer points out that this modality has given the agency more physical capacity for more persons to access training.
“So, one of the things that we have done with that is, we are putting it in our strategic forecast for the organisation, that for all our institutions, 50 per cent of the programmes they offer must use the blended approach,” she adds.
She notes that even though the blended approach to learning had to be implemented due to the pandemic, the agency will continue with this format when things get back to normal.
Dr. Dyer informs that when the pandemic started, the agency had to revise its enrolment target down by 28 per cent, to 97,974 and as at February 25, had enrolled 94,408, which is 96.4 per cent of the target.
“I am confident that by the end of March, we will have 100 per cent [enrolment],” she says.
Regarding its Adult Continuing Education Programme, the HEART/NSTA Trust has now incorporated the High School Diploma Equivalency (HSDE) initiative into its programmes, following the merger of the Agency with other entities.
The ultimate aim is to have persons coming into the Adult Education Programme to achieve their High School Diploma.
“For them to achieve the high school diploma, they have to complete the intermediary and the proficiency component of the training. At the proficiency component they are required to sit five Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exams and upon passing the five CSEC, they are granted their high-school diploma,” Dr. Dyer tells JIS News.
“So, the programme is ongoing. There are some of the centres, based on their physical condition, we have had to pull them. So, as the organisation consolidates space, we are looking to move some of the training into our physical HEART institution,” she adds.
Meanwhile, Dr. Dyer says the agency was not able to do the level of enrolment that it wanted to do, due to the impact of the pandemic.
“We are currently working with the Tourism Enhancement Fund to see how best we can develop an App that these persons can use in training. So, we are in the discussion phase with that,” she notes.
She informs that last year (2019/20 fiscal year) some 16,000 persons were enrolled in the programme.
“For this year (2020/21), we are a little under 7,000 persons. This is based on the pandemic and a lot of persons not coming out and we have had to suspend classes. Where we would have had a class of 20, we just have to have between eight and ten persons, so it has impacted our enrolment this year. But the programme remains strong and we are working to ensure that it remains sustainable, as there are so many of our Jamaicans who need this kind of service,” Dr. Dyer says.
She tells JIS News that persons are now gravitating towards the programme, because it is no longer Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL).
“They are not branded as going to JAMAAL, they are now a HEART Trainee. So, it takes away the sting from persons saying you going to JFLL, because you can’t read. Now you are coming to HEART,” she says.
Dr. Dyer informs that the agency has now twinned the programme with some skills training, so at the end of the training period, based on the skills that the participants chose, “you can be leaving with your skills certificate and your high-school diploma equivalency certificate at the same time”,