The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information and University of the Commonwealth Caribbean (UCC) have partnered to roll out the Early College and Advanced Placement High School Programme.
This will enable secondary students with the requisite qualifications, who graduate at Grade 11, to pursue accredited Associate Degrees at the university.
It will also allow students entering grade 12 to begin an early college programme, similar to what obtains in the United States.
The initiative, which is being facilitated under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Ministry and UCC, is slated to get under way in September with a pilot in 50 high schools across 10 parishes and targeting 5,000-grade 11 graduates.
Portfolio Minister, Senator the Hon Ruel Reid, and UCC’s Group Executive Chairman, Dr. Winston Adams, signed the MOU at Thursday’s (January 25) launch, at the university’s main campus on Worthington Avenue in New Kingston.
Senator Reid welcomed the programme against the background of data he said indicated that only 55 per cent of students are involved in post-grade 11 academic or training programmes.
“A (key goal) of this programme is to reduce the cost of tertiary education. So, I am very excited about this very creative development, which is aligned with the Government’s strategy to facilitate greater access to tertiary education. I am proud to validate and launch it,” the Minister added.
In his remarks, Dr. Adams emphasised that tertiary education is pivotal to Jamaica’s sustainable development.
“That’s the only thing that will help us to make a significant impact on the country. Mass access to quality tertiary education is really Jamaica’s last chance to secure sustainable development and, indeed, create meaningful employment and career opportunities, especially for our youth at risk,” he said.
The Early College and Advanced Placement High School Programme will enable students to access either UCC-accredited Associate Degrees, or those accredited by the Ministry in Occupational Studies targeted to specific expanding and emerging industries.
These include Cybersecurity, Computer Programming, Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Hospitality Management, and Business Intelligence Management.
The degrees are designed to guide secondary students in making informed career choices, thereby strengthening the pool of highly skilled and knowledgeable labour force for whom the cost of tertiary education may be prohibitive.
The programme spans two years, at the end of which graduates desirous of pursuing further studies will have the opportunity for advanced placement to either UCC’s bachelor’s degree programmes in Kingston or its regional campuses; the University of London Bachelor of Law Degree; and the Florida International University’s bachelor’s degree programmes offered through UCC.