Alessandro Boyd, Gleaner Writer
JAMAICA COLLEGE (JC) is continuing to take huge strides towards restructuring the education system and enriching the curriculum in Jamaica through its three-year-old aviation programme.
Launched in 2009 in association with Compania de Aviacion de Jamaica Y Caribe, the aviation programme allows students to begin pilot training while completing their secondary education at JC.
"We wanted to facilitate students into the non-traditional career paths, ones that are very lucrative and juxtaposing; aviation is a very good career to pursue," Ruel Reid, principal of JC, told The Gleaner on Monday.
"Look at what's happening now in terms of growth in Asia and the demand for aviation services. Jamaica, in fact, is very short of opportunities for young people in high-income areas, so it was important that JC led the way to try and open up possibilities in these areas."
Open to the public
The aviation programme, with both afternoon and summer components, is open to the public as well as JC students, with more than 40 students participating in the course each year.
The school is currently registering students from fourth to sixth form and the main requirement is to be functionally literate.
The prospective students are required to do a ground school certification that is invigilated by the Aviation Authority of Jamaica at the end of the course. If they wish to pursue the career path subsequent to this, then the next phase, which is the full commercial pilots training, will have to be done privately.
"It has been a pretty good experience for the youngsters who have been involved. A lot of kids actually want to become pilots. In fact, students have actually selected JC because of the aviation programme, and some of them have actually moved on to do their commercial pilot training and they are on their way to becoming pilots," Reid said.
He also noted that the programme would continue to grow as many people previously did not have the opportunity and exposure to aviation training in Jamaica.
"If we want to transform Jamaica then we have to approach these kinds of areas that will have a great impact on sustainability, employment opportunities and long-term growth," Reid said.