Jolyn Bryan, Gleaner Writer
The Paul Bogle Vocational Training Institute in Lyssons, St Thomas, incorporated an early childhood Level II programme into its curriculum at the start of the month.
Millicent Williams, principal of the institution, expressed satisfaction that the programme was finally on stream, highlighting that the need for training in early childhood education had been greatly felt in the parish.
"Most institutions in the Corporate Area offer this kind of training, and so most persons in the parish who are interested in qualifying themselves have to do a lot of travelling," she explained.
This, she said created economic constraints and issues with attendance, making it more difficult for persons to become fully qualified. With a programme in the parish, it is hoped that some of these difficulties will be alleviated and more qualified early childhood practitioners can be fostered.
The programme comes at a time when the Ministry of Education is putting more emphasis on early childhood education as a means to increase literacy and numeracy in schools and decrease the need for remedial studies.
Though the possibilities are promising, Williams spoke about the difficulties the institution has had in establishing the early childhood department.
"There was another programme like this in the parish, quite close to us, but it was facing major difficulties. The HEART Trust/NTA has a policy that training institutes cannot offer the same kind of curriculum when they are within a certain area, and so we were unable to start our own," she said.
With the recent closure of that institution, however, Paul Bogle VTI and HEART have now partnered to offer training in early childhood education.
Thirty-eight applicants, including two males, have already begun their orientation and are expected to begin classes this week.
The programme, though off to a promising start, is not without issues.
"Because we are a project of HEART/Trust and not a fully incorporated institute, we are not fully funded. Most of our funding comes from HEART/Trust, but there is a shortfall. Student fees make up for some of this, but our main support is the community," she said.
The community showed its support with the donation of a stove to the department's kitchen by Chung-Sang Hardware. Dr Fenton Ferguson, member of parliament for Eastern St Thomas, on Thursday, also presented cheques valued at $69,000 towards the purchase of a refrigerator and multipurpose printer. Williams and the staff were very appreciative of these efforts.
The Paul Bogle Vocational Training Institute was formally established in 1993 and offers training in electrical installation and general construction in addition to the new programme. Training in welding was also offered but had to be discontinued because of a shortage of applicants.