Clarendon North Western schools proud of success in skill areas

By Alicia Sutherland
Observer staff reporter
sutherlanda@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, October 23, 2017

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SPALDING, Clarendon — Last Friday Alston High, Knox College High, Thompson Town High, Claude McKay High, Edwin Allen High, Spalding High and C Palmer Project Hope Skills Training Centre were each recipients of $500, 000 cheques for the growth of skill areas at their respective educational institutions, within the Clarendon North Western constituency.

The institutions, some more than others, have all been repeat beneficiaries of grants from the Constituency Development Fund since Member of Parliament Richard Azan started the initiative five years ago.

As such, the audience attending the handover ceremony at Spalding High School heard progress reports of success in subject areas including agriculture, visual arts, home economics and industrial arts.

Head of the Agriculture Department at Alston High School, Richard Williams, told how last year's funds allowed for the expansion, renovation and modernisation of the work at the poultry unit, with the acquisition of a five-picker de-feathering machine and another for scalding during the preparation of chickens when they have matured.

Principal of Spalding High, George Henry, felt the ability to make improvements in practical areas has translated into better pass rates in external examinations, in the different specialisations within the Industrial Arts and Home Economics departments.

Thompson Town High School principal, Richard Morgan, hailed his institution as a fast-growing one, noting where among the areas that achievements are being seen is visual arts, which is amassing a 100 per cent pass rate up to the sixth form level.

Principal of Knox College High, Alexander Bourne, whose school is now a recipient for the second time, said that last year the donation boosted the equipment in the technical department with the purchase of sewing machines, refrigerators and stoves, and the pass rate reflected positively in the clothing and textiles and food and nutrition programmes. He has committed to using this year's funds to expand the information communication Technology (ICT) offering at the institution.

For Claude McKay High principal, James Smith, the reliability of the funds has been an important part of him properly structuring and adding value to vocational subjects while defying stereotypes that students pursue them as a last resort.

He lamented that students in vocational areas were once considered marginalised and sometimes fell victim to poor administrative practices in those departments at educational institutions.

Azan, a graduate of Spalding High, said it was on the premise that every child in the constituency should leave high school with at least a skill and a Level 1 HEART Trust/NTA certificate that the programme was conceptualised. Now, he said, some students are also leaving high school with Level 2 HEART Trust/NTA certification.

“It don't make sense that we have our children leaving school with 10, 12, 13 CXCs and don't have a skill,” he said.

HEART Trust/NTA representative, Wayne Battiste, in addressing the gathering, said that it is remarkable when funds are allocated for education of the youth because it is between the ages of 17-24 that they are at the risk of being unattached, which has negative implications for nation building.

“I want to urge the students to take advantage of the opportunity that they get with this programme; and not just to go through the programme as an exercise but learn what you can and make sure that you learn it in such as a way that you can apply it after you leave (the) institution of learning,” said the Constituency Development Fund's representative Pauline Scott-Blair.

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