MONTEGO BAY — It is a proven fact that an educated nation will progress faster than one with a high level of illiteracy. At the micro level, the same applies for a region, a town or a district.
With the introduction of numerous tertiary institutions in western Jamaica over the last five years, the latest being the University of Technology (UTech) campus in Trelawny, the region is poised to contribute more to the development of the country.
The institution will be established on some 116 acres of land, inclusive of full access to the Trelawny multi-purpose stadium and its lands.
“This is the home, the beginning of the University of Technology, Jamaica West,” said President of University of Technology, Jamaica, Professor the Hon. Errol Morrison, at a recent ceremony to give details of the campus, at the Trelawny multi-purpose stadium. He noted that there are approximately 2,000 students from western Jamaica awaiting acceptance to the institution.
The campus, to be the main centre for UTech in western Jamaica, will become the third facility from which its courses are offered, as there are two others in nearby Montego Bay, one at Kent Avenue (Management) and the other at Barnett Clinic (Nursing).
Mayor of Falmouth, Councillor Colin Gager, who has been integrally involved in the development of that town, in Trelawny, has lauded the introduction of the UTech campus, describing it as one of the major links in the overall development plan for the parish.
“Years ago, I had a dream that a premier University would be established in this parish. Today the dream has come true, and an academic darling has fallen in love with the parish,” Mayor Gager tells JIS News.
“This marriage will produce opportunities for all of us…It signals the educational development of our citizens,” he says.
The residents have also fully supported the introduction of the University campus in the area, with some expressing the view that the parish will now be able to retain some of its best minds, which will be a positive for the development of Trelawny.
“When the youngsters go to Kingston for tertiary schooling, they usually seek work there, and very few ever return to these parts,” businessman Anthony Ferguson tells JIS News.
He also cites the difficulty of finding accommodation in Kingston for University students, and the added expense of boarding fees, transportation fees and food bills.
“To send my child to university here in Trelawny will cost me far less than if I were to send him to Kingston or anywhere else,” Mr. Ferguson notes.
He tells JIS News that the educational standards at UTech are highly regarded, and, as such, the western campus should not have any problems getting students registered for their programmes.
Montego Bay business tycoon, Tony Hart, says the establishment of UTech's Western Jamaica Campus adds to the physical and economic strength of the area.
“This is certainly a very great and important time for Trelawny – it gives the opportunities, it gives every child a chance to progress,” Mr. Hart says.
President of the Trelawny Chamber of Commerce, Richard Bourke, says members of the Chamber believe that the establishment of the UTech campus will augur well for the parish’s development, noting that, “the advent of a university is the growth of a city.”
He points out that the trend in first world countries is for a University to be built and a city grow around it, and that a university is usually the driver of an economy.
“It will create the manpower to improve the business, improve the technologies and improve the parish and the island overall,” Mr. Bourke says.
He argues that with the UTech campus in the west, a high percentage of persons who were deprived of a tertiary university education, because of the location of the institutions, would now have a new opportunity opened up to them.
Vice President, Planning and Operations at UTech, Dr. Kofi Nkrumah-Young, tells JIS News that all of that institution’s programmes will be offered in western Jamaica, with the Trelawny campus being the hub of its operations.
He informs that architects are now working on the design of the building, and that it is expected that the student population will rise to over 4,000 in the next five years.
“Our operations here are projected to generate an average of $3.6 billion per annum for the economy in this region, and when you add the multiplier effect you can get figures like $7 billion up to $12 billion,” Dr. Nkrumah-Young tells JIS News.
“This, no doubt, will go a far way in stimulating growth and development for these parts of Jamaica,” he adds.
By Bryan Miller, JIS Reporter