Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
WESTERN BUREAU:COME SEPTEMBER, the more than three- decade-old Undergrad College will usher in the new school year under a new moniker, Global Centre For Excellence (GCFE).
A major plank of the rebranded educational institution is the establishment of an extensive after-school programme in which it will be compulsory for all students to participate in the school's business unit, which is set up to promote entrepreneurship.
"If you should visit any town in Jamaica between the hours of 2:30-6 p.m ... sometimes 7 p.m., you see schoolchildren in droves wandering about the plazas gallivanting. Come September, all of our students have to be a part of a business enterprise. And the student will have the option to chose whatever is their passion," revealed Reverend Sylvester O'Gilvie, head of the centre.
He added: "If you have an interest to work in the hospitality industry, then you can be a part of the hospitality company here, where it will give you real-life training in hospitality, and how to work in that industry. Students will be engaged meaningfully. In other words, they will participate in what is happening in the tuck shop, and they will make their contribution in providing the meals."
O'Gilvie, speaking at the official opening of GCFE at its new Brandon Hill, Montego Bay location on Wednesday, told parents that, unless there is an emergency, they will not be required to pick up their children from school until after 5 p.m.
"I am saying it now to the parents who are here that you don't need to come for your children unless it is an emergency, because they will stay back and engage in meaningful activities. We have enough land where we can put in a nursery and provide for the canteen," he underscored.
Meanwhile, the centre, which will continue to offer students from Grades Seven to 11, lessons in CSEC and CAPE, will also be adding vocational courses, including hospitality, foods and cosmetology. These vocational courses will be in addition to the existing electrical installation and computer-repair courses.
a comprehensive plan
According to O'Gilvie, in addition to its existing high-school and vocational programmes, GCFE seeks to launch, in a comprehensive five-year roll-out plan, an Early Childhood Unit consisting of a 24-hour nursery.
Lauding the school's president for his courage on embarking on this new holistic approach towards education, Deputy Speaker of the House Lloyd B. Smith noted that the country lacked persons of action.
"One of the things that Jamaica seems to lack is a sufficient number of doers. We have a great number of thinkers, researchers, politicians, media practitioners, and we talk, talk, talk; but not many of us do, do, do," he argued.
Smith, who was wearing three hats, the others as chairman of GCFE and MP for Central St James, said the country needed persons who were capable of thinking out of the box.
"That's what we want right now. We need people to think big, come with big ideas. And this is a big idea whose time has come. And it has been said nothing can beat an idea whose time has come."