The Alpha Institute ... Providing a solid foundation for young boys
The Alpha Institute is not just about education or providing skills training, its overall objective is to enable a social development thrust to help the boys in its care mature adequately and face their future.
The school has more than 120 boys between the ages of 15-18 years in its skills-training programme that include music, landscaping, screen-printing, woodworking, printing, and bookbinding. Tuition is free and the Ministry of Education pays for the skills courses.
Charles Arumaiselvam, public relations director at Alpha, says students are not just taught subjects or a skill, but they are prepared to face the business world. "It is not good enough to just have something to do, but for us to also delve into the humanitarian side. We give them an identity. Some of these boys live in communities, but they do not have a home. Alpha is like their first home," Arumaiselvam said.
Arumaiselvam added that the boys are also taught proper work ethics and discipline in managing their jobs. "They have to be willing to do more than what is required on their job description. They have to maintain a certain level of discipline and decorum so that they display respectful behaviour in the workplace," he said.
The music programme at the Alpha Institute cultivates musicianship by developing analytical and listening skills that connect classroom learning to musical repertoire.
Screen-printing is another course in which students learn to work in a commercial screen-printing and apparel production environment.
Alpha students are also taught a number of practical skill sets in the field of woodwork and using both hand tools and machinery. Combining theory and practical instruction, students gain an understanding of woodwork techniques, technologies and opportunities in the woodwork and craft industries.
Alpha's business and social entrepreneurship programmes also focus on the creation of social and economic value by developing core capabilities of idea generation, opportunity recognition, resource acquisition, and entrepreneurship management.
Eighteen-year-old Desmond Sinclair is a student at the institute. He is from the Seaview Gardens community and started attending the school last October. He is training in woodwork and hopes to continue learning the craft in the long term.
"The teaching experience has been great and has opened my eyes to my dreams. Rather than sitting idle, I have something to do to continue my education," Sinclair said.
The Alpha Institute is a registered educational institution under the Ministry of Education and also provides a two-year career advancement programme to students as its academic programme in collaboration with the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning.