JIS News

The Ministry of Land and Environment and the Caribbean Institute of Technology (CIT) will sign a Memorandum of Understanding on November 14, for the development of a Geographical Information Systems (GIS) diploma course.
The one-year course, which is now in the draft stages, is expected to come on stream in September 2006 and will be offered by the CIT in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean.
The signing, which is slated to take place at the Montego Bay Civic Centre during a GIS exposition, is part of a series of activities to observe Geography Awareness Week from November 13 to 18.
Jacqueline McBean-Blake, Manager of Business Development and Marketing at CIT, told JIS News that the development of the course was within the framework of goals of the institution to fuel the growth of Jamaica’s software industry by addressing the shortage of software developers and programmers.
She said that while GIS was being used in many areas by parish councils, ministries and organizations, there was not a sufficient cadre of persons trained in the use of the technology. Mrs. McBean-Blake said the course would tap into this growing market by training and certifying persons in the full-scale use of GIS.
It is estimated that the course will cost $90,000 for Jamaican students and the Ministry of Land and Environment will supply the software for the programme. Cecille Blake, National GIS Coordinator in the Ministry, expressed satisfaction about the impending venture, stating that there was a need to develop competencies in this “relatively new technical area.” “With GIS’ far reaching effects, it is seen as one of the new areas for career development and we are very pleased that CIT has come on board and will be offering it as part of their course delivery,” she told JIS News.
Geography Awareness Week is being observed under the theme: ‘GIS: Securing Our Communities,’ and activities will get underway on November 13, with a church service at the Calvary Baptist Church in Montego Bay, beginning at 10:00 a.m.
In addition to the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on November 14, there will be GIS panel discussion at 1:30 p.m., with arguments focused on the theme for the week. Agencies from Kingston and the private sector will be on hand to showcase the limitless use of GIS.
“We will also be looking at planning in the city of Montego Bay. We know that the city has suffered a number of floods in recent times and that will be high on the agenda,” Ms. Blake informed, adding that the role of GIS in ameliorating change in this regard would be looked at.
Activities in Kingston will include an executive GIS seminar at the Ministry of Land and Environment on November 15 and also a GIS academic debate at the University of Technology auditorium. In 1987, the National Geographic Society in the United States sponsored Geography Awareness Week to promote geographic literacy in schools, communities and organizations with a focus on educating children.
This year marks the first time that activities have been organized to commemorate the week in Jamaica.

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