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JIS News

As early as next year, the Justice Training Institute (JTI), which is the training agency of the Ministry of Justice, could join the growing list of tertiary level institutions that are providing international level instruction for Jamaicans.
Already, plans are far advanced for the Institute to receive accreditation from the University Council of Jamaica and the National Court Reporting Association (NCRA) in the United States, following which it will be better able to market its services not only to the justice sector, but also to the public at large.
Audrey Sewell, Director/Principal of the Institute, informs JIS News that the institution is in the process of completing application for accreditation, and from all indications, everything is on target. “There are several criteria that the Institute has to fulfill and we are currently working to meet those criteria and standards,” she says.
Mrs. Sewell notes that the NCRA has been working online with the Institute, to provide assistance in completing the relevant documentation for accreditation. “They have been giving us guidelines and helping us to complete the application, but it is really a very detailed process and we are working through the processes right now to ensure that we have met all the quality standards and there are quite a number,” she points out.
The Director also benefited from the NCRA’s annual convention held in Arizona in July, where new trends were highlighted. “This is where we looked at criteria for achieving accreditation standards,” she explains.
Already, measures have been put in place to facilitate the accreditation process, Mrs. Sewell says, noting that there have been improvements in terms of the structuring of programmes and “the curriculum that we are using is aligned to the NCRA standards and the certification of our trainers, so already, we have fulfilled quite a number of the criteria”.
Based on the work so far, Mrs. Sewell says that by the end of the financial year, everything should be in place and the evaluation process should be completed. “In our programme plan, we hope that by the end of the financial year we would have fulfilled all the criteria and that persons would have come down and conducted the evaluation,” she says.
The Institute stands to benefit greatly from international accreditation as according to Mrs. Sewell, this will say to the public, that the institution’s programmes are of an international standard.
“It is not that we are currently operating below (the international level) but we would have attained all the standards for international recognition and our students would be certified to work anywhere internationally,” she points out.
Getting accredited, she says, will assist the Institute in marketing its programmes, as currently, not many persons are fully aware of its functions. “We are not out there at the level that we would want it to be known and I think because it is so specific to the justice sector that it kind of limits us, but we want persons to know that we do not only train persons that are within the sector,” she tells JIS News. She adds that efforts are being made to improve on the institution’s public education programme.
In addition, it is hoped that the institution will be able to earn more revenue to facilitate plant expansion. The Institute receives funding from government but a lack of resources has prevented further building.
“We have put it back on the agenda for the next financial year but in the meantime, what we have been doing is moving off site, renting other facilities to offer the training and we have had our first such training in Montego Bay,” she informs, noting that the Institute does not wish to limit itself because of limited physical facilities.
The JTI was established in 1997 to design, develop, organize, co-ordinate and conduct training programmes for personnel employed in the public and private sector that serve the justice system. Programmes are offered in legal administration, criminal justice, supervisory management, customer service, computer applications, court reporting and accounting principles, among others. Currently, there are over 350 persons involved in full-time programmes, while others are taking part-time courses.
One of the most demanded courses is the court reporting course and according to Mrs. Sewell, the skill is in high demand internationally. Last year, the Institute received requests for training from students in other Caribbean regions.
“It (the demand) is very significant internationally. Even in the US, they themselves are not able to fill the demand that they have and the US has been recruiting court reporters from Jamaica, so it is a very high demand programme,” she says.
Programmes are offered at the certificate level and diplomas and degrees will be offered once the accreditation process is finalized.
Over the years, the JTI has expanded its scope of training in response to the needs of the justice sector and is offering the Financial Crimes Investigation course to clerks of courts, lawyers and prosecutors, and the police.
Training is also offered in sign language competency. “With this course, we want to improve communication in the courts and so we target the court staff mostly but there are other persons, who also benefit because we have persons from the correctional services and from the police, who come in and do this course,” she explains. The course is offered at the foundation and intermediate levels.
Mrs. Sewell points to a shortage of lecturers in the area of court reporting, but informs that the Institute has sought the help of the NCRA in this regard. “We have approached them to assist us in identifying suitably qualified person and this would be short-term because we are trying to put together an accelerated programme to train lecturers so they will be assisting us in that area of training persons to be lecturers,” she explains.
Meanwhile, the Institute is seeking to extend its services to the wider Caribbean region and hopes that international accreditation will accelerate this process. Mrs. Sewell notes that while there are other justice training institutes throughout the Caribbean, they are not as recognized, although Trinidad and Tobago is working to get its court reporting programme accredited.
Mrs. Sewell says that persons from other regions are encouraged to attend the Institute here in Jamaica. “What we are looking at is that we would be the benchmark institution for that type of training and that other persons from other Caribbean islands can come here and access the training programmes,” she explains.
She notes that, “one of the things we have in our plan is to work through our Chief Justice, from one Chief Justice to another, one Ministry to another and we also plan to make visits to Caribbean islands to promote the programme.”