Under the theme, ‘Technical and vocational education, the way of the future,’ the Ministry of Education Technical Cadet Corps Program (TCCP) highlighted and awarded 20 young people, who successfully completed the program on Thursday (May 10) evening.
Held at ‘A Social Affair Convention Center,’ family, friends and well wishers assembled to witness the group enter a new stage of their young lives, adding yet another certification under their belts, prior to completion of their high school careers.
The program, initially established in New Providence in September 1990 and subsequently expanded to reach students residing on Grand Bahama in 1994, was designed to provide an introduction to technical skills and services for selected high school students, commencing at Grade 10 for a period of three years.
The TCCP runs concurrently with the MOE’s National School Curriculum. On the island of Grand Bahama, the group meets two days a week at St. George’s High School between the hours of 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. All courses are instructed by trained technical and academic educators.
Serving as keynote speaker, in the absence of Jeffrey Lloyd, Minister of Education who was unable to attend, Michael Pintard, Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture told the audience that technically based industries are the wave of the future, and Bahamians must adapt and be able to compete with our global counterparts in that regard.
“It is a wonderful occasion, each time that we are able to transition our young people, from strength-to-strength. This is a moment when many parents are proud of the sacrifices that they have made, because they can actually see the fruit of their labor. But not just parents, many of you as educators, as mentors for these young people, you know intimately the challenges that they would have faced during the course of this program. As is often the case many persons start out in the program, but only the remnant survives to the end.
“To the young people who have stuck with the program, who have toughed it out; I know a number of you have given consideration to opting out of a rigorous program, given all the challenges and demands that have been placed on you in other areas of your life. I want to say, congratulations for your consistency.
“Your theme is a fitting one and is absolutely true. Technical courses and programs signal where we are headed as a society. Grand Bahama has been branded, in recent times, as the technology hub of The Bahamas and in a very short period of time, we are beginning to see the fruits of that labor. We believe that we are poised to attract companies not just from around the world, but companies started by Bahamians who live here and abroad in a wide range of technical areas.
“Long gone are the days where we simply relied on strict academic courses that lead to traditional occupations. We are now living in an era where you must be as savvy and as competent in technology as you are in English and in Math. That is the period that we are headed into. In fact, countries with whom we compete internationally, a number of them, particularly, the Asian and some Arab countries, have as a basic requirement in their educational system, that young people learn various areas in technology. I find it amazing when reading articles about young children taking coding courses, while they are in junior school and of course in senior school,” stated Pintard.
“You are, in fact, very insightful to have seen around the curb and to recognize the demands of this economy and the world that is coming, and to decide that you are going to get in the front of what will be a tremendous move in this region and ultimately in this hemisphere.
“The Bahamas must stop playing catch-up in critical areas and you are a part of the vanguard, the frontrunners in making sure that we are not in the business of catching up, but that we become pacesetters.”
Veteran educator and former principal of Hawksbill High School, Cecil Thompson also brought brief remarks, during the ceremony. He congratulated Bishop Joseph Hall Sr, Assistant Director of TCCP and his team for a job well done with the program, for over two decades.
“I wish to commend Bishop Joseph Hall Sr. and his staff for the excellent job that they have done here in the Grand Bahama District, over the past 23 years. When this program was initiated by the late Dr. Bernard Nottage in 1990, I was the principal of Hawksbill High School. It was the flagship of technical and vocational education, in The Bahamas.
“There was not a school comparable in the region to match Hawksbill High School in terms of its technical and vocational offerings … it was a class all by itself. Of course, Dr. Nottage also served as the Minister of Education and when he introduced this program, it was a three-year program, starting in the tenth grade. The first coordinator in Grand Bahama was Mr. George Wilkinson, he then was replaced by Bishop Hall, who took the program to another level.
“I want to encourage all of the representatives of corporate Grand Bahama not to get weary or discouraged, but continue to ensure that the program goes from strength-to-strength and that you continue to fund it, because it is an excellent investment in the education of Grand Bahama and indeed The Bahamas,” said Thompson.
During his vote of thanks Hall expressed his gratitude and appreciation to all that made the success of the program possible, noting that it would not have been possible without the help and strength of Almighty God.
Eight students left the graduation with scholarships to learning institutions – five to the University of The Bahamas, two to universities abroad and one to The Bahamas Vocational and Technical Institute (BTVI). The two-year scholarship to BTVI was sponsored by Pakesia Parker Edgecombe, Member of Parliament (MP) for West End and Bimini.
Head Boy and Head Girl of the 2018 TCCP cohort Ryan Stewart and Tyler Adderley, respectively were awarded the two international scholarships, while the five recipients of the University of The Bahamas were Lynique Greene, Tristan Rampersad, Arielle Pinder, Joanna Albury and Simone Kemp. The recipient of the two-year scholarship to BTVI was Trent Russell.