School furniture project gives community workers and students a boost
THE MINISTRY of Education and Youth’s school furniture project at the Vere Technical High School in Hayes, Clarendon, has been providing a well-needed boost for both students and skilled persons in the community.
Burchell Simmons, head of the engineering department at the school and project manager, who was busy working on desks and chairs to be dispatched to wherever it is needed when the The Gleaner visited, said he has already engaged over 40 students in two-week batches for the work experience programme.
The students are engaged in most of the manual labour, such as sanding and affixing desktops.
“Students who take part in the work experience are not paid initially – but those who show exceptional qualities, we call them back and they are paid,” he disclosed.
Next week – a week before school reopens – he said he will be re-engaging their services to ensure that they “have a little money” in their pockets for the new school year.
Apart from the opportunity to earn, Simmonds said that the programme goes a long way in assisting students in their elective classes because of the first-hand experience they get from observing and practising.
“Welding students get a chance to see how it is fabricated and are given the opportunity to practise welding, and the carpentry students also worked on the desktop by doing the cutting and then finishing the spraying. All of that and, in addition, they help in affixing the desktops to the top of the table. Also, they get the opportunity to do some spraying too,” Simmonds explained.
Sharing on the general feedback from the students, he said they have a far greater appreciation for the work involved in making school furniture and, as a result, they develop a keen interest in taking care of them.
He said some have even queried whether the furniture they assisted in making could be used by them in their classes.
Expounding on the impact of the project, Simmonds said the wider community benefits, too, as it is geared towards providing employment for skilled people around the area.
“For example, a skilled welder would assist with most of the welding and also grooming the students, along with the teachers. You have a skilled sprayman so as to not waste the material and basically to give us the best possible finish as well,” he shared about the skill set of the the workers on the project.
With over 500 desks and chairs already completed, he said the Bureau of Standards visited recently and gave approval. Simmonds said the furniture are now awaiting pick-up to be dispatched.