Ambassador Burchell Whiteman, a long-time educator and advisor to the prime minister, has been honoured by the Council of Community Colleges of Jamaica (CCCJ) for pioneering work in the development of institutions across the island.
He was one of four educators recognised at a function held last Wednesday at the Jamaica Grande Hotel in Ocho Rios, St. Ann. The others were Philbert Dyhll, Jeannette Grant-Woodham, and Cebert Adamson.
Chairman of the CCCJ, Quince Francis, said that over the years the organisation has always seen it necessary to celebrate with all who have served the community colleges in whatever capacity.
In a citation read at the function, Ambassador Whiteman, a past principal of the Brown's Town Community College in St Ann, was saluted as one of the pioneers of the community college system in Jamaica.
He was also credited for seeing to the provision of the necessary academic, administrative and support staff the colleges needed to expand their programme offerings, while he served as Minister of Education.
values tertiary education
"You know and understand the worth and value of these tertiary institutions that take students at all levels, and allow them to develop at their own pace and abilities," the citation read.
"You, in your various capacities, recognised the uniqueness of the colleges that are strategically placed, making it easier for students to access quality education at an extremely affordable cost.
"Honourable Burchell Whiteman, you have selflessly served over the years, and for this, we honour you," the citation concluded.
Ambassador Whiteman also served as Chairman of the Board of the University Council of Jamaica, and is a past principal of the York Castle High School.
The CCCJ, a statutory agency under the Ministry of Education, was formed in December 2001 to supervise and coordinate the work of the country's community colleges.
Currently, there are five community and three multi-disciplinary colleges with 19 satellites/campuses across the island, which fall under the supervision of the CCCJ.
The award function was held as part of the CCCJ's annual general meeting from January 9 to 11 under the theme: 'Shaping the Future: Changing roles for Community.
In the meantime, Prime Minister Simpson Miller, speaking at the same function, said community colleges in tomorrow's society will demand the new skill sets needed to facilitate better collaborative and consultative work which can bring college and community into a unified system.
Underscoring the important role of community colleges, Prime Minister Simpson Miller said new pressures were forcing changes to the community college system as "the kind of education needed in today's global economy places greater emphasis on new and changing skill sets."
The prime minister told conference participants that changes in the local and external environment required a constant rethinking of the developmental education model and in this context, new social relationships and synergies are required to enhance business capacity, increase teaching effectiveness, and to promote opportunities for community development.
The prime minister also highlighted global practices of community colleges in more developed countries which she said, regarded community colleges as a potent mechanism for economic growth and development with colleges not only expanding their cohort of graduates in response to current and future needs of the society but were also centres of educational innovations. She called on the local community college fraternity to pull important lessons from such experiences.