UCC, education ministry agree to widen access to higher education
Pointing to bright employment prospects in various sectors of the economy, Minister of Education, Youth and Information Ruel Reid recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean (UCC) to increase access to higher education and training for high-school students.
The agreement establishes the UCC's Early College and Advanced Placement Credits in High Schools Programme, which will be delivered initially through clusters of 50 select high schools in 10 parishes across Jamaica. The MOU also seeks to extend the ministry's Centre of Occupational Studies associate degrees to high schools in 10 parishes, initially through UCC subcampuses. It is envisioned than an initial maximum of 5,000 students will be able to participate in the programme each year.
Likening the launch of the programme to Emancipation Day, Reid said: "We must move away from elitism. Education must liberate our people." He was speaking during the official launch of the programme at UCC's head office in New Kingston on Thursday.
Reid said that the project was also in keeping with the education ministry's policy goals of ensuring that all secondary-school graduates have an opportunity to earn an associate degree by the time they complete Grade 13.
"This is another revolutionary approach being taken," he said, "to diversify tertiary-level education in Jamaica while providing appropriate skills training in the arts, science, and technology in response to specific industry demands and provide a pool of highly skilled and knowledgeable workers."
In his remarks, UCC Executive Chancellor Dennis J. Gayle pointed out that although some 90 per cent of age-cohort students are enrolled in high schools, only 19 per cent of age cohort students (16-30 years) are enrolled in tertiary education.
"This UCC initiative is intended as a significant service to the community, which will help our nation to further develop its human capital resources, generating momentum towards sustainable economic growth and development," Gayle told the gathering of largely educators from across the island.