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MONTEGO BAY, Monday, October 12, 2015: More than one thousand students from six north coast high schools are reaping the rewards of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) initiated Centres of Excellence programme. Students from participating schools are prepared for meaningful employment in the local tourism sector.
The TEF’s $54 million commitment has established Centers of Excellence at Little London, Grange Hill, Irwin, William Knibb Memorial, Marcus Garvey Technical and Cross Keys high schools. Work at another five is slated for completion by December this year.
During a visit to the Centres of Excellence at the Little London and Grange Hill high schools in Westmoreland Friday (October 9) Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, said, “As our tourism sector continues to grow, the Ministry, through the Tourism Enhancement Fund, is committed to ensuring the availability of a suitably skilled work-force for the industry to draw on.”
“I am pleased to hear that the Centres of Excellence programme is already reaping rewards for some schools which earn revenue from the projects,” the Tourism Minister added.
At Little London High School where the focus is on food preparation, Minister McNeill participated in a cooking demonstration and received a crash course in making rainbow sandwiches. He also toured the school’s photo lab, which he said was very impressive.
“The projects are off to a superb start and are helping the students to get practical experience in a way that will make it easier for them to assimilate into the tourism sector,” said Minister McNeill.
Principal of Grange Hill High School, Errol Stewart, lauded the COE programme and said his school was very fortunate to have been chosen as one of the beneficiaries of the TEF-funded initiative, which has allowed for the upgrading of its woodwork shop and establishment of a media centre with state-of-the art equipment for visual arts.
Already an arrangement has been made for the school’s woodwork shop to supply a local hardware store with wooden strips. The visual arts department boasts a range of professional photographic equipment and Mr. Stewart disclosed, “We are now creating our own ID (identification card) and this is significant because we would have spent thousands of dollars to produce these. It also means that we can now empower our youngsters to contribute to the school’s economic earning potential at Grange Hill.”
Subject areas included in the programme include home management, woodwork, photography, music, agriculture, building technology, learning enhancement, mathematics, research and information technology. The initiative is a collaborative effort with the Ministry of Education.