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The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) is now a semi-autonomous body with a nine-member board.
The board, a first for the institution, was established by the 2010 Bahamas Technical and Vocational Act, which came into force in early 2011. Its chairman is Felix Stubbs, general manager of IBM Bahamas Limited; the deputy chairman is Peter Whitehead, consultant at Osprey Construction.
"BTVI students will be supported by a very able-bodied board of visionary and successful leaders in their own right, who will work with the management of BTVI to map out a more progressive future for BTVI," said Minister of Education, Science and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald.
Other members of the board from various industries include Cadwell Pratt, assistant director at the Ministry of Works and Urban Development; Kevin Basden, general manager at the Bahamas Electricity Corporation; Thelma Grimes, retired public servant; Godfrey Forbes, president, Bahamian Contractors Association; Henry Storr, proprietor, Storr's Electric; Sabrina Francis, fashion designer and owner of Se-B Fashion Designs, and Ruby Nottage, retired Supreme Court justice.
With semi-autonomy, BTVI will have its own budget. Previously it was under the Ministry of Education.
According to the education minister, the board's appointment is a leap forward for vocational and technical education in The Bahamas.
"The board will play a critical part in the development of BTVI. It will help to raise the profile of BTVI from a policy and national perspective," said Fitzgerald.
"We want to be able to reduce the number of labor permits and BTVI plays a critical role in that. BTVI is addressing the needs of the country in terms of skilled labor."
Stubbs said the board recognized the significance of BTVI.
"It is important to the advancement of the economy and skilled laborers are needed to help move the economy forward. At BTVI, we want every deserving person to be given the opportunity to enhance their skills," he said.
Sitting as the ex-officio member of the board until the appointment of a president is BTVI's Manager and Consultant Dr. Iva Dahl. Fitzgerald commended Dahl and her team for their hard work and efforts in elevating the quality of programs and training along with local and international partnerships, which have advanced BTVI.
"One program I am particularly impressed with is BTVI's construction trades training, which it has taken to the Family Islands to ensure that scores of Bahamians have an opportunity to obtain skills training in this lucrative field," he said.
Fitzgerald noted that studies show that higher levels of vocational education and training qualifications and workforce development are strongly linked to increased workforce participation and productivity of society.
BTVI offers various programs of study where students are able to obtain diplomas and certificates. The institution also offers associate of science degrees in office administration, business office technology, construction technology, electronics engineering installers and repairs, in addition to information management.
In the past two years enrollment has increased by more than 25 percent at the institution. There are 1,957 students at BTVI, with 1,746 at its New Providence campus and the remainder being at the school's Freeport campus.
Graduates of the C.C. Sweeting High School Work Based Learning Programme were reminded that they might never get a second chance to make a first impression, and that as they graduate high school they should decide to be strong, confident A-grade employees.
Elma Garraway, former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education, told the members of the sixth graduation class, of which Micheal Hanna was the top academic student, to decide that with determination, hope and commitment they can achieve their goals.
"It is my prayer that you will make wise decisions and remain safe as you move forward, upward and onward in your new role as a responsible adult, citizen and proud alumni of C.C. Sweeting Senior High School," said Garraway.
For those students seeking further training and educational experiences, Garraway reminded them that financial aid was available for them at the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute and that short courses can be found on a part-time basis in most of the technical and business areas.
The former education permanent secretary, who was also an educator, said it's never too late to learn anything their mind's can conceive of.
"You must be prepared to defy the odds [and] intend to win," said Garraway.
The former permanent secretary shared with the young men seven traits identified by the American Association of Technical and Vocational Education sent to her by Dr. Iva Dahl, the manager/consultant at the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute, that she said would ensure success once followed -- attitude, attendance, appearance, ambition, accountability, acceptance and appreciation.
"Positive people are in short supply, but are in high demand. Display good manners at all times and never let anyone determine how you should behave," Garraway said.
Garraway told them to be on time every time, as punctuality speaks to character and will give their supervisors an impression about how they feel about their jobs. She reminded them of an old adage: "The early bird catches the worm."
"You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Dress the part you were hired to play or would wish to play," she said.
The educator also said that their ambitions would show that they value knowledge and to always learn, read and continue their educations and training.
"Exceed the expectations of those around you and show that you are invaluable to your employer. My advice to you is to write down three goals you would wish to achieve. Look at them every week and evaluate how you are working to achieve them," she said.
Garraway reminded the graduating students to be accountable and people of integrity. She told them to always demonstrate that they can be trusted to complete all tasks assigned without being watched.
"Be honest in all things, and be the kind of person you would trust to work for you," she said.
She told them that they always need to be accepting of rules and regulations of the job, the country and the Bible and to respect authority and those placed in leadership positions.
"Be a good team player. And remember that in order to be a leader you must be a good follower," she said.
The former teacher reminded the graduates to always show appreciation and to go beyond the call of duty to give good service and be reminded that every satisfied customer is a repeat customer. She told them their supervisors would value their service.
The C.C. Sweeting Work Based Learning Programme is an all-male cohort started in September 2007 by the school's former Principal Delores Ingraham. Its motto is: "It's Better to Build a Boy than to Repair a Man."
The main objective of the program is to act as an intervention for twelfth grade male students -- to reduce the dropout rate among high school male students who are challenged academically; to ensure that the students participating in the program achieve a skill/trade; to provide students with the opportunity for gainful employment. (If they work well enough on the job, the company may hire them for the summer and then full time); to expose the students to hands-on, on-the-job training opportunities; improve the number of male students satisfactorily completing high school; and provide participants with the opportunity to sit the Bahamas Junior Certificate examination for math, English language and health science if they have not done so.
Students attend school twice per week to receive instruction in the core subjects and report to the work site of their career choice on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. They are mentored while acquiring a skill as they are exposed to various skill sets like air condition repair, auto repair, bodywork, landscaping, plumbing, hotel training, videography and welding while still completing high school.
Over 120 students have passed through the program since its inception. The program has an 80 percent completion average.
Current Work Based Learning Programme work sites are E & U Watercoolers, the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Junkanoo Beach Resort, Superclubs Breezes and The Royal Bahamas Police Force Garage.
THE Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute presented a scholarship grant to Miss Universe Bahamas Lexi Wilson yesterday...
High school technical teachers were recently urged to ensure they are knowledgeable about the latest advances in their fields of study from the Dean of Construction Trades at The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI), Alexander Darville.
Darville told the public school teachers during a professional development workshop that they could not rely on the Ministry of Education to do everything. As instructors he told the teachers that they should always be on the cutting edge of what is happening in the world. As an example, he said an instructor should never say they should not say they could not use an air gun because he likes to use a hammer. He told the teachers that they are the ones preparing students for industry and the work world, and as such they should ensure they are trained.
The workshop that focused on BTVI's role in preparing students for construction and technical trades, student pre-requisite standards and program readiness was held at C.C. Sweeting Senior School. The workshop's theme was, "Designing pathways to the future -- Establishing standards at each level."
Teachers represented government schools that offer technical courses in electrical installation, carpentry, drafting/autocad, plumbing, electronics, auto mechanics, auto body repair, and air-conditioning and refrigeration.
Darville also told the teachers that there was a need for an alignment between high schools and BTVI.
"All the subject matter experts need to bridge the gap. It is far over due to have a relationship with BTVI," he said.
The Ministry of Education's senior education officer for technical studies, Trevor Ferguson, supported Darville's sentiments.
"I agree with you 100 percent that it is far past time to forge a relationship. BTVI is our premier technical and vocational institution and we are the 'nursery' for the training. We need the relationship to take our students to the next level," said Ferguson.
During his recommendations, Darville suggested that all technical instructors should complete the international 10-hour Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certification.
He said that as subject experts, they should also sit at the table when planning the curriculum, a suggestion that meet with applause from the teachers.
The workshop was the opportunity to strategically plan, coordinate and implement efforts for the benefit of the present and future generations of technical workers. Darville said that at BTVI, the goal is to empower students to not only prepare for the world of work, but to also become entrepreneurs.
The Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) has partnered with Bahamas Technical
and Vocational Institute (BTVI) in the Corporation's Technical/Mechanical
Apprenticeship Programme. Recently a class of 13 all-male apprentices from BEC participated
in an orientation session at BTVI where they learned "safety comes first."
Apprenticeship Programme, a City and Guilds-approved programme, recruits and
inducts young adults (ages 18-25) into the Corporation. The Programme makes
full use of the City and Guilds curriculum comprising both academic and
THE Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute presented a scholarship grant to Miss Universe Bahamas Lexi Wilson yesterday.
The issue surrounding majority rule is for Bahamians the 'elephant in the room'. It's the issue that is ignored and goes unaddressed because it is both socially and politically incorrect to do so due to its close ties to the history of race and discrimination in our country.
It is unfortunate to see such a major achievement in our country won by men and women of that day who believed that successive generations of Bahamians deserved a better life than what they were experiencing. The issue has become so politicized that it appears supporters of the Free National Movement (FNM) have little emotion for the event and the supporters of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) have claimed the event as a personal victory.
Politics has taken hold of our nation in such a divisive way that everything is politicized whether it relates to the attainment of a job in the civil service, appointments to government boards, and the bench. This cancerous philosophy has affected us right down to the color of the garment that we wear. It is an unwritten rule that supporters of the FNM should not wear yellow/gold outfits. The reverse is true if one supports the PLP - it is almost a taboo to wear red. More recently, an individual's allegiance and loyalty to his party is now being questioned if he wears the color green, the banner color of the newly formed Democratic National Alliance. Where did we lose our way and when did we seek to ignore matters of national importance and focus on such trivial things that add little value to our lives?
A victory for all
Majority rule was a Bahamian victory. It tells the story of a group of people that fought in the Quiet Revolution to bring about social, economic and political change. It promised the Bahamian people gifts of hope and prosperity for all and not just a small few. It is my view that God ordained it that its fruition would depend upon the cooperation of the former United Bahamian Party (UBP) member turned independent, Sir Alvin Braynen, and the Labour Party leader Sir Randol Fawkes. It was indicative of the fact that The Bahamas is for Bahamians of all backgrounds, black or white, rich or poor, liberal or conservative and those who believe in workers' rights. It was the culmination of struggles that started with the abolition of slavery in our islands, and other events such as the Burma Road Riots, the General Strike, one man one vote, the women's and universal suffrage movements and Black Tuesday. In those times there was no PLP or FNM, but a fight toward equality and opportunity for all and the chance for democracy to reign in our nation. It is worth noting that the founders and the supporters of the Free PLP, the dissident group who left the PLP in the early 1970s, were all present and participated in this common struggle. In the eyes of some, they were seen as traitors for later joining forces with the very group of people who oppressed the masses for so long. The merger of the Free PLP and the UBP would give birth to what is today the FNM. Nevertheless, it begs the question whether this merger has prohibited the recognition of majority rule by the FNM on a national level? Further, to many Bahamians, majority rule has been touted as a sole PLP victory. While it is accepted that the PLP played a major role in bringing majority rule to fruition, the continuous annual private celebration of the event on PLP territory is frowned upon and will not accomplish much to bring a non-partisan national awareness of this historical achievement of our nation. Why can't the leaders of the PLP, FNM and the trade unions join forces annually to mark this event? Such divisions and lack of unity have contributed to the inability of the full Bahamian history to be passed down to successive generations of Bahamians.
It is a grave error on the part of the leaders of today to fail to make a conscious effort to celebrate this achievement on a national level. Majority rule holds a place in history similar to Emancipation Day, Labour Day and Independence - accomplishments that played major roles in the prosperity that we experience in The Bahamas today. More importantly, majority rule gave birth to the 'Bahamian Dream'. It was a clear demonstration to Bahamians of all races, ethnicities and backgrounds that we possess the ability to govern ourselves and that we could be whatever we aspired to be. It was the stepping stone that brought about independence from British colonial rule a short six years later on the July 10, 1973. After delivering on the promise of political freedom, it paved the way for economic freedom. In this sense, faced with a largely illiterate population, the then PLP administration placed significant importance on educating the masses. They understood that education was the currency that would advance a people to a better way of life. Hence, education was very essential to the attainment of the Bahamian Dream. They embarked upon a task to expand the learning institutions that were available. They built more primary and secondary schools and built the College of The Bahamas as well as technical and vocational institutions of higher learning. They also made provisions for scholarships to be provided to attend local and international institutions of higher learning. It was clear to all and sundry that education would lead to higher paying jobs that would enable many to own a home, save for retirement and educate their own children.
Further, that administration instituted a safety net for Bahamians through the implementation of National Insurance, expanded healthcare services and commenced a low-cost housing program that afforded thousands of Bahamians access to home ownership, hence the creation and expansion of the middle class.
Where we are
Today, 45 years later, it appears as though we are losing sight of the Bahamian Dream and regressing rather than progressing. We are witnessing in unprecedented numbers Bahamians losing their jobs, homes and properties while many cannot afford the basic necessities of life and access to higher education. We have yet to bring about advanced economic freedom to our people on a large scale. We are not in full control of our economic destinies with ownership within our main sectors of tourism and financial services, for the most part, resting in the hands of foreigners. Although their presence has generated jobs for thousands of Bahamians and improved their standards of living (and for this we are grateful), jobs alone will not be sustainable for the 21st century Bahamas, but instead the added ability of Bahamians to create jobs themselves.
Bahamians do not want a hand-out, but rather a hand-up and The Bahamas must not be allowed to evolve into a welfare state. The role of the government is to create an environment that is conducive for its people to prosper, and in turn we must be committed to work toward the desired economic freedom.
Furthermore, we must place priority on educating our people once again; otherwise we will not be able to compete in our own country much less the world. We must transfer ownership to Bahamians and the environment must be created for small and medium-sized businesses to prosper by way of appropriate fiscal and monetary policies, reduction in the cost of energy and improving access to capital for growth and expansion. We must expand our industries to provide job and entrepreneurial opportunities for Bahamians outside of tourism and financial services, which are heavily dependent upon the stability and prosperity of the U.S., E.U. and Canadian economies, for the most part. A failure to do so could result in a brain drain and an exodus of some of our nation's brightest minds.
We must make every effort to reduce the gap between the 'haves' and 'have nots' and a revised tax code to bring relief to the poor, working and middle class is imminent. We are witnessing a threat to our nation's stability through the increased level of crime that is spiraling out of control. Arguably, this has a direct correlation with the economic challenges that we face as a nation today. It is imperative to state that we all have a role to play in building a better Bahamas and increasing the possibility of laying hold of the Bahamian Dream.
Parents must take their parenting and nurturing responsibilities more seriously and revert back to the values that our nation was built upon by distinguishing between right and wrong. Churches must be more aggressive in spreading the message of Christ above any other message and branch out into the communities where people that are in need of spiritual fulfilment reside. Likewise, teachers, civic leaders and their organizations must also continue to provide checks and balances to the work that the family, government and church are undertaking. The old African adage is true that "it takes a village to raise a child", and without all hands on deck, the Bahamian dream may be reduced to just a dream with no hope of becoming a reality for many.
oArinthia S.Komolafe is an attorney-at-law. Comments can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham pledged on Saturday night that the government will commence the restoration of Andros that will take the island to "higher heights".
Speaking at a Free National Movement (FNM) rally in North Andros attended by hundreds of supporters, Ingraham said Andros has been neglected for far too long under Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) representation.
"We will soon be replacing the leaky pipes in Mastic Point, south and north; [construct] roads, then we will move to Nicholls Town as we commence the restoration of Andros," he said.
"You hold huge promise North Andros."
Current Carmichael MP Desmond Bannister is the FNM's candidate for North Andros and the Berry Islands.
He will face PLP candidate Dr. Perry Gomez and Democratic National Alliance (DNA) candidate Randy Butler.
Both Ingraham and Bannister agree that Andros is a "sleeping giant".
"I don't have to tell you the potential of this island - north, south and central. It is enormous," Ingraham said.
"Desmond's bigger mission is to help to take Andros to new heights. You have been left behind too far. We want to give you accelerated movement in the way forward. So I sent you one of the best men I've got, Desmond Bannister."
Ingraham added that his government has already begun to improve the quality of life for the people of North Andros.
Giving an update on the works that have been or will be carried out, Ingraham said, "We are reconstructing and repaving these roads to the tune of $2.5 million in Staniard Creek; we will also replace those leaky water pipes up there; we are reconstructing down in Fresh Creek a $1.7 million docking facility; we are building two new bridges in South Andros at a cost of $1.7 million at Little Creek and Deep Creek and we planned the construction of a new school in Lowe Sound, Andros.
"In addition you are also benefitting from a number of government programs, the national job readiness program and soon the jump start program."
Bannister, who also addressed the crowd, said work will soon start on an administration building in North Andros, and additional classes to house technical classes.
Bannister added that the government is also in talks with the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) to establish a campus in North Andros.
He also promised to introduce new buyers to farmers on the island, resolve crown land issues, and he said the government will upgrade airport facilities.
"I knew Andros when things were good and I want to bring those good times back home," Bannister said.
North Andros is currently represented by the PLP's Vincent Peet, who has been MP for the area since May 2002.
The PLP recently decided not to re-nominate Peet, an attorney, after an issue emerged relating to $180,000 in client funds.