New boss for HEART in two weeks, Interim head says agency to stay the course on college plan
Published: Sunday | November 8, 2009
George Ramocan, interim head of HEART Trust/NTA, is bound for Canada (left) and Paulette Dunn-Smith ... was only a few months in the job when she resigned (right). – File
George Ramocan, acting executive director of the HEART Trust/NTA, says his stay at the training agency will be short and intended to facilitate a smooth transition for the new head being recruited.
Ramocan is scheduled to leave Jamaica on November 15 to take up his new posting as consul general in Canada, at which time he expects a permanent replacement to be in place at the New Kingston-based agency.
Ramocan was named acting head of HEART on Monday when executive director Paulette Dunn-Smith, five months into her tenure, handed in her resignation because of alleged conflict of interest over involvement in a Grenadian company called Caribbean TVET Consultants Limited, which provides the same type of services as HEART Trust.
Another director, Clover Barnett, also resigned over alleged involvement in the same company.
The interim head, who is also a board member of the technical and vocational training institution, said Wednesday that the organisation was still on track to turning its training institutes - 26 in all - into independent community colleges.
The role of HEART/NTA, he said, "will become regulatory in the same way that the MoE (Ministry of Education) regulates schools".
Ramocan said, however, that the conversion to colleges was still at "discussion stage" and that financing for technical and vocational education would remain the organisation's responsibility.
Referring to the 3.0 per cent company levy, which provides HEART with some $5.4 billion in funds annually, Ramocan said much of it would be directed into installing a technical and vocation stream in all high schools in the medium term.
"It will require funding," he said, "to provide two extra years so that when they (students) leave school, they will be qualified and skilled. The HEART fund will still be used for all TVET activities."
In addition to its core technical curriculum, the HEART Trust/NTA also provides services in policy analysis, planning, technical assistance, instructor-training accreditation, enterprise-based training, vocational curriculum development, development of training and facilities standards, and the compilation of labour-market information.
The agency is responsible, too, for ensuring that all technical training programmes operated by other government agencies, ministries and private training institutions conform to national accreditation standards.
Meanwhile, it is planning to upgrade its training institutes into colleges, which offer a more diverse curriculum with independent operations.
"The concept of HEART being more of a regulatory body rather than one that delivers service directly is very much still on the table," Ramocan said.
The education ministry is designing a programme to make it compulsory for sixth forms in high schools to facilitate mandatory technical and vocational training leading to the Level One National Vocational Qualification of Jamaica (NVQ-J) certification now offered by HEART.
The first test of this programme will begin January 2010, with a pilot involving 2,500 students in 10 schools.