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    Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Audley Shaw, has said that Jamaica’s economic transformation must be underpinned by corresponding pursuits in education.
    Mr. Shaw contended that it is only through the “enablement of our people intellectually, through technology and the learning process of how to do things better, more efficiently (and) productively,” that Jamaica will be able to achieve economic transformation.
    Addressing the launch of the University of Technology’s (UTech) enhancement project, at the institution’s Technology Innovation Centre on its Old Hope Road campus, St. Andrew, on Thursday (Mar. 12), Mr. Shaw said that within the context of the prevailing global economic downturn, UTech is in a “unique position” to become integrally involved in and supportive of the economic transformation theory being advanced.
    “I believe that this University, with your level of aggression and with your capacity for hands-on work, can help us in a significant way in charting the new course for economic transformation,” he said.
    He also noted the administration’s efforts at enhancing the e-learning experience, by positioning applied technology to support the transformation process.
    The US$43.9M UTech Enhancement Project is being undertaken against the background of the institution’s increased enrolment over the years which, according to the President, Professor Errol Morrison, grew from 50 students pursuing four programmes half a century ago to upwards of 10,500 engaged in some 100 disciplines, currently.
    Funding of the initiative is being jointly undertaken by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), which has provided a US$26.9M loan, and UTech which is putting up US$17M from its own resources.
    The Government, through the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), made representations to the CDB for assistance after being approached by UTech.
    Chief of the CDB’s Social Sector Division, Yvonne Moses Grant, who addressed the function, said the project’s scope of work will comprise expansion and upgrading of the institution’s facilities.
    This includes upgrading of labs0 and construction of administrative facilities to improve governance. Additionally, she said the project will assist UTech in its staff development programmes, thereby ensuring the majority of academic staff will have terminal degrees by 2015.
    “We also have, within the project components, institutional strengthening, which is very wide ranging, (and) will comprise activities that will assist UTech in diversifying its revenue stream,” she added.
    She explained that helping to diversify the university’s revenue stream, will enhance its financial sustainability. The goal being reducing government subventions to the institution.
    Additionally, Ms. Moses Grant said students will benefit from the infusion of technology in the teaching/learning dynamics, which will broaden UTech’s outreach, with other components enabling the institution to develop a system for continuous examination of its relevance.
    The University of Technology previously benefited from CDB funding in 1999, when the bank provided a US$2.9M loan to develop the Technology Innovation Centre. An additional US$980,000 was provided for the preparation services for the current project, in October 2004, with the CDB Board approving the US$26.9M allocation in December, 2007.

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