JIS: Over the next 12 months, more tertiary programmes will be introduced online, courtesy of the Council of Community Colleges of Jamaica (CCCJ).
The first programmes to be offered are Business Studies, Criminal Justice and Hospitality, according to the Council’s Executive Director, Dr. Donna Powell Wilson.
She tells JIS News that the Council recently mandated that in addition to the regular mode of delivering courses at its nine colleges, other persons need to be reached online.
“Wherever you are, we are giving you the opportunity to get a tertiary education that is on par with any other tertiary education in the world,” Dr. Powell Wilson says.
The Executive Director notes that partnerships have been formed to ensure that students can access internationally recognised qualifications, such as those offered by the United Kingdom (UK)-based Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA).
Representatives of the organisation recently came to Jamaica and reviewed the CCCJ’s Bachelor of Business Administration (Accounting), and the agency’s curriculum and examination papers.
“At the end of that review, we were granted exemption from five ACCA examinations,” Dr. Powell Wilson notes, adding that “we consider that to be a milestone achievement”.
The CCCJ, through its regulatory functions, determines and implements standards in the colleges to ensure the integrity of the courses. It prescribes the conditions under which persons may be admitted as students of the institutions, and recommends and approves curricula to be used in the system.
Meanwhile, Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, cites the growth in the number of community colleges, the expanded programme offerings and the partnerships with other stakeholders in the education system.
Noting the initiatives of the CCCJ to meet the training needs of the workforce, the Minister highlights the collaboration with the HEART Trust/NTA.
“You have also used initiatives to meet the needs of communities, and by extension, the country,” he said at a recent awards banquet, where scores of persons were recognised for their contribution to the work of the Council.
The Minister further adds that the agency has responded to “prevailing social challenges” by developing the Associate degree in Social Work, with support from practitioners, as well as the Associate Degrees in Business Processing Supply Chain Management, Digital Forensics, Plumbing Services and Technology.
He says the Council must continue to “vigorously” respond to national, regional and international needs, as they are strategically positioned to help in the growth of communities.
“Because of your flexibility in the acceptance of students, while maintaining standards, you have been able to accept some with very few qualifications, and facilitate their growth and development,” the Minister notes.
As an example, Senator Reid cites the case where a security guard at one of the colleges benefited from the organisation’s continuing education programme, and moved to a Degree in Business Administration, and now holds a senior position in a Ministry.
Three institutions in the region have incorporated the CCCJ’s training programmes – The Turks and Caicos Community College, the Bahamas Baptist Community College, and the Anguilla Community College. Talks are ongoing with Barbados and the Cayman Islands to join.
Dr. Powell Wilson says the cost to access their programmes is reasonable, adding that there is a strong emphasis on quality.
“Quality assurance is very high on our agenda and the necessary resources have to be in place. A programme cannot be offered if the labs are not in place, and the teaching staff must have the requisite qualifications,” she tells JIS News.
Principal of Brown’s Town Community College, St. Ann, and Member of the CCCJ Council, Mrs. Claudette Fletcher, says persons seeking tertiary training, who might have had challenges travelling to other locations, are being facilitated by community colleges.
“This Council facilitates programmes that prepare people at a reasonable cost, without compromising the quality,” she tells JIS News.
Another Council Member, and Principal of the St. Ann-based Moneague College, Howard Isaacs, says the CCCJ is the most responsive educational institution in the region, and that a big focus of the entity, outside of its academic programmes, is to facilitate community development.
He reasons that the community college system is dynamic in how it transforms individuals from basic college admissions to university degrees.
“Our responsiveness is like no other. So, we continue to look at ways in which to provide programmes that will make the learner, not only employable, but to create employment,” Mr. Isaacs says.
Community colleges offer University Council of Jamaica (UCJ) accredited programmes, such as engineering, business, hospitality and tourism management, agriculture, education, criminal justice, social work, logistics, business process outsourcing and management.
CAPTION: Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid (right), in discussion with Chairman of the Council of Community Colleges of Jamaica (CCCJ), Dr. Orville Beckford, at the 15th Anniversary Awards Banquet of the Council recently.