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HEART Merger to Expand Access to Training and Certification


JIS: Persons will be able to access training and be certified through a centralised system, with the merger of the HEART Trust/NTA, Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL) and the National Youth Service (NYS).


Under the merger, slated to take effect on April 1 this year, operations of the JFLL and NYS are to be subsumed under the HEART Trust/NTA. This will see some 14,000 students being accommodated in the national training institution’s programmes.


Speaking with JIS News, Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, says the collaboration is particularly noteworthy, as it will serve to strengthen the lifelong learning sector, acting as “a one-stop shop”, providing a suite of educational, remedial, technical and vocational programmes for adult learners 15 years and older.


“Through this symbiosis, the suite of programme offerings available through HEART will benefit adult learners greatly. The merger will also provide a smooth transition for a significant number of JFLL learners into HEART to pursue vocational studies, thereby creating a pathway to higher studies and a continuum from basic education to tertiary-level education,” the Minister explains.


Senator Reid says this is a critical aspect of the merger, as learners can now benefit from an in-house literacy programme offered by JFLL to enable them to matriculate to HEART Trust programmes as well as other institutions of higher learning.


HEART Trust/NTA is the leading human resource training organisation that focuses on technical and vocational skills. It has 28 campuses across the island. The NYS has 13 field offices and the JFLL has more than 20 programme sites.


This is another benefit for learners, as they will be able to access the programmes and resources of all three entities through satellite offices across the island.


Senator Reid says the merger is part of the Government’s continued efforts to ensure universal access to educational opportunities for all members of society.


He tells JIS News that this is particularly important, as adult illiteracy and inadequate access to educational opportunities for socially marginalised communities have a negative impact on the social well-being and economic growth of the country, and perpetuates the cycle of poverty.


“Few people would argue with the idea that literacy is essential to human development, as it offers a foundation for good health and nutrition as well as for achieving socio-economic development.


This is especially true in today’s knowledge-based world. It, therefore, means that the absence of literacy skills makes it more difficult to advance to a better quality of life,” he says.


The JFLL has been the vanguard of Jamaica’s adult education since 1974.


Formerly called the Jamaican Movement for the Advancement of Literacy (JAMAL), the Foundation offers programmes of study ranging from basic literacy and numeracy up to Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) subjects in a variety of disciplines and courses. Courses are available at 30 Adult Education Centres (AECs) islandwide, with computer courses at select locations.


Meanwhile, the NYS commenced operations in 1973 with the mandate to stem youth unemployment and academic underachievement. The organisation assists youth aged 17 to 24 with life skills, personal development, work experience, and encourages a culture of volunteerism for national development.


Formed in 1982 and restructured by the amended HEART Act in 1991, the HEART Trust/NTA is mandated to assist in stimulating economic growth and job creation by offering National Vocational Qualification of Jamaica-certified programmes.


The agency operates 27 technical and vocational education and training locations that focus on providing a variety of training options to all Jamaicans seeking to advance their career.


CAPTION: Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, addresses the contract-signing ceremony of the Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL) and the Japanese Embassy Grassroots and Human Security Project in Kingston, recently. The agency will be merged with the HEART Trust/NTA on April 1.