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  • Education Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, has welcomed the expansion of subjects offered by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) in technical and vocational areas.
  • Notable among these, he said, are courses in Tourism, Agricultural Science, Entrepreneurship, the Performing Arts, and Physical Education and Sports, which are being offered in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) external examinations.
  • The move by the CXC to increase offerings in vocational subjects is in keeping with a policy decision by the Ministry to integrate technical and vocational education and training into the local secondary school curriculum.

Education Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, has welcomed the expansion of subjects offered by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) in technical and vocational areas.

Notable among these, he said, are courses in Tourism, Agricultural Science, Entrepreneurship, the Performing Arts, and Physical Education and Sports, which are being offered in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) external examinations.

“We are pleased that (within) CSEC has…emerged…a number of subjects that are a part of that general new approach to the choice of competencies,” Rev. Thwaites said.

He was addressing the CXC’s annual awards ceremony for the top performing students in its 2014 external examinations, held on Thursday (December 4) at the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) regional headquarters, Mona, St. Andrew.

The move by the CXC to increase offerings in vocational subjects is in keeping with a policy decision by the Ministry to integrate technical and vocational education and training into the local secondary school curriculum. The objective is to better prepare students for the job market, which is increasingly demanding these competencies and skills.

“Global labour market trends are telling us that persons with certified technical, vocational education and training (TVET) skills sets are in demand. There is (also) the added benefit that persons with these skills can easily venture into entrepreneurship and micro business. The emerging (consensus is) that students should be equipped with a mixture of technical, vocational, as well as traditional subjects. We should find out what skills the industrial and commercial enterprises need, in their broadest sense, and then equip people with the requisite skills certification,” Rev. Thwaires stated.

The skills that have been introduced by the Ministry include: call centre operations, digital animation, crop production, motor vehicle repair and food and beverage service.

“We have (also) integrated the HEART Trust/NTA Level One and Level Two programmes into the high school curriculum, and it is our target that by the 2016/17 academic year, every Grade11 student must sit a TVET subject in an external examination,” Rev. Thwaites outlined.

He also welcomed the fact that the Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) “is becoming as well known and reputable, as we would like it to be.”

He informed that CVQ provisions are being implemented in over 78 high schools in Jamaica, and commenced last year with Grade 10 students, adding that “we are pleased (with) the progress that is being made.”

“We also promote TVET in port-secondary education by repositioning our skills training institution, the HEART Trust, to offer higher level training programmes at the superior levels of their gradation,” the Minister further said.

He also highlighted the launch of CARICOM’s regional TVET strategy earlier this year, noting that it “redefines and promotes technical and vocational studies as an agent of workforce development and economic competitiveness,” and fosters the integration of TVET with “general education for life and livelihood.”

Rev. Thwaites also cited the re-launch of Jamaica’s national apprenticeship programme, which will equip students with the requisite competence and experience to pursue careers.

“As the regional examination body, the CXC has a very important role to play in promoting all of these educational advances. I am happy to say that what we are doing in Jamaica is part of what is happening throughout the Caribbean,” he added, while commending the 2014 CXC awardees.

In his remarks, CXC Chairman, UWI Vice Chancellor, Professor Nigel Harris,  noted that the people of the Caribbean, have  made the examinations a success and “we…thank them.”

Sixteen students from high schools in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana, copped multiple awards for outstanding performances in this year’s CSEC and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE).

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