Technical, vocational skills will help drive the agricultural, manufacturing, construction and services industries

Training room at the National Information Technology Center

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, APRIL 18TH2012 (CUOPM) – The Ministry of Education is to roll out plans for the digitalization of library services to the public and schools and training in technical and vocational skills to drive technological, construction, services and manufacturing sectors.

Minister of Education, Sen. the Hon. Nigel Carty said the One-To-One Laptop Initiative in which thousands of high school students received personal laptops represents an excellent opportunity to improve teaching and learning in the secondary schools in both islands.

He said however that the creation of cost-efficient, effective and secure data networks, the orientation of teachers in the effective use of ICTs, and the provision of technical support services are all co-requisites for a beneficial outcome of the initiative.

Mr. Carty said that the Ministry of Education will encourage an even closer working relationship with the Ministry of Technology and service providers to leverage resources and expertise to promote the desired goals.

“One easily-identifiable area for the application of ICTs is that of Digital Library Services. Our students and teachers at all levels should be able to access common library catalogues and content, digitally and online, to promote learning and research. It is evident that many of our young people are socially dislocated. While unemployment continues to be significant, there is concurrently a dearth of technical and vocational skills that are required to help drive the agricultural, manufacturing, construction, and services industries,” said the Minister of Education.

Computer lab at the Saddlers Secondary School

He said the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programme is therefore in a critical phase.

“Not only must our draft TVET Strategy be immediately finalized, but there needs to be broad understanding of and support for our programmes in this area,” said Mr. Carty, who also disclosed that his ministry intends to hold Project Strong, AVEC, the NSTP, the High School technical programme, and the CXC Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence(CCSLC) in closer focus.

“We are studying, for example, the question of whether every student in High School ought to take at least one technical subject as a matter of course. We have won the support of USAID to help us expand our NSTP-coordinated School Work-based Programme through the A GANAR project as we target the at-risk youth for skills acquisition. With closer collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, there will be greater outreach to primary schools for the support of their agricultural programmes,” said Minister Carty.

The TVET programme of the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College (CFBC) is in a mode of challenge and it remains a critical mandate for the Board of Governors and administration of that institution to immediately address.

“More over, the National TVET Council, strengthened through the creation of the office of Director of TVET Development, will be better positioned to lead in the implementation of our critical TVET programmes and to hold them under constant review and evaluation. Our National TVET Strategy will be finalized and major stakeholder groups are being consulted towards this end,” said Mr. Carty.

His ministry views an effective, well-resourced TVET programme as critical to changing the socio-economic landscape in the medium term, and seeks the partnership of all sectors for the development and implementation of the plans in this area.

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