Thu | Jun 30, 2022

Government moving to elevate technical vocational education says Williams

Published:Sunday | May 22, 2022 | 2:24 PM
Minister of Education and Youth Fayval Williams addresses members of the Rotary Club of Trafalgar New Heights (RCTNH) last Thursday evening. The minister said the government is moving to create stronger parity between technical vocational education and academics. Listening in the background is Dr Suzanne McDonald Fowles, president of RCTNH.

Minister of Education and Youth, Fayval Williams, says the University Council of Jamaica is to accredit technical vocational education programmes, as the government moves to place technical vocational education on par with traditional academic qualification and achievement. 

The Vocational Training Development Institute (VDTI) is also to become a tertiary institution as part of the initiative, she revealed.

"I'm not just standing up here and giving lip service to it," she assured members of the Rotary Club of Trafalgar New Heights and their guests, as she addressed them late last week at a general meeting of the club held at CRU Bar in St Andrew. 

"They (UCJ) are the ones that accredit the traditional programmes. So put it (the responsibility for accreditation) in one entity [and] make it on par with [academics]. Just because you're not going down this traditional path doesn't mean that these other pathways are not valid," she said. 

Williams said the relevant legislation will be amended to elevate the VDTI to a tertiary institution. Located in Papine, St Andrew, VDTI , which is an arm of the HEART Trust NSTA, trains teachers in technical and vocational education. It has satellite sites in Montego Bay, St James, and Mandeville, Manchester. 

"You could get a master's degree, you could get a PhD. We're changing the landscape. We're saying to persons, to students, just because you're not going down this pathway you are lesser and can't be successful," she said. 

At the secondary level, she pointed out that the government has already implemented options for students that offer them an opportunity to acquire technical and vocational skills after grade 11 under the Sixth Form Pathways Programme. Due to a lack of space in some schools, high schools have been linked to community colleges to provide teaching and learning under the arrangement. 

"From all indications (schools and students) like that arrangement and community colleges like it too and they have the capacity- meaning space- to accommodate the students," she said. 

She explained that a memorandum of understanding was signed with the Council of Community Colleges of Jamaica, which accredits community colleges and certifies the courses offered, to provide oversight of the arrangement.  

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