Knox Community College in Manchester, with its four campuses, is impacting the lives of young people, especially from central Jamaica.
Principal, Rev. Dr. Gordon Cowans, tells JIS News that the community college is a premier tertiary institution, serving Jamaicans for more than 40 years.
“I think community colleges are among the misunderstood institutions in the country. So, here we have an institution that offers a range of accredited programmes all the way up to bachelor’s degrees. We also offer certificates and associate programmes, and these are accredited programmes through the University Council of Jamaica,” he notes.
He says programmes are offered through different modalities, such as day and evening classes, along with online options.
The institution recently hosted its annual College Day at its Cobbla Campus, where students benefited from a day of skills-learning, displays, presentations, simulations and entertainment.
“We feel the need to have a day like this when we expose it (the school), as best we can, to our potential students who we invite – the secondary schools. We are particularly happy to see nearly 40 different schools being represented. We are very pleased about that and we are exposing them to our range of offerings,” Dr. Cowans says.
The College Day event is not new, and has been ongoing for the last 20 years.
Grade 11 student at the Christiana High School, Derron Jackson, mentions that the Open day activities have motivated him to be more determined about his career choice.
“I want to be a gynaecologist, but first I want to study nursing. Coming to Knox wasn’t on my mind, but now after coming here today and hearing (what was said), I think I’ll do it,” he states.
Another student, Amanda Wong, also of Christiana High School, says: “I would like to become a midwife, but when the tour guides took us around, it kind of opened up my mind because I wasn’t expecting it to be that hard, but it blew my mind. I think when I leave high school I want to come here.”
The founders of the school wanted an institution where students would begin from the basic level, straight through to tertiary, and thus began the noble institution.
Currently, the institution has three campuses that offer tertiary-level education only, namely at May Pen, Mandeville and Cobbla.
However, the Spalding Campus, otherwise called ‘The Knox Complex of Schools’ offers basic, preparatory, high school and tertiary levels of education.
“The complex is 70 years old this year, having been started by Mr. David Bent and Rev. Lewis Davidson. The community college grew out of what these great educators thought would be the progress of education, from the basic school straight through to the preparatory and high schools, and the community college,” Dr. Cowan says.
“On that original site in Spalding, all four age groups are educated. But the community college, having grown over the last 40-odd years, is now resident in four parts of central Jamaica,” he adds.
He also mentions their excellent Nursing programme and the linkages with the main universities in Jamaica.
“These opportunities for education must not be wasted. There are so many aspects of our educational programme that are just not very well known. I’m hearing it more and more, that we have the best nursing school in Jamaica,” Dr. Cowan says.
He explains that the four-year bachelor’s programme, franchised from the University of the West Indies, is taught over a four-year period.
“Our students are graduating. It is a very strong nursing school. There is also engineering to the Associate degree level,” the Principal states.
The opportunity for tertiary education and its availability to all is the point Rev. Cowans really wanted to drive home.
“Here is an opportunity for students who may think that tertiary education is out of their league. I think we need to get past that. That for a child who came here today, just for a bus drive, and is in the 10th or 11th grade would say, ‘but come to think of it, (I) could probably do that’,” Dr. Cowan says.
“We are the most cost-effective way to get a tertiary education. When students come face to face with that reality, what I am hoping is that it will become a moment for more and more ordinary young Jamaicans who can say, ‘I can also be in the tertiary-education band. I can think of myself’,” he reasons.
He adds that there is nothing that should be a barrier to a future that is now attainable.
Article by: Christine Ade-Gold
Photo from: www.jis.gov.jm