BY DENISE DENNIS Career & Education staff reporter email@example.com
THE Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) and the National Parent-Teachers' Association of Jamaica (NPTAJ) have insisted that there continues to be value in teaching vocational subjects in schools.
There comments come in the wake of one principal's assertion in the media recently that some traditional vocational subjects, including metal work and woodwork, should be abolished.
Principal of the Institute of Academic Excellence Jermaine Martin was quoted as saying that such subjects needed to be removed from the curriculum and alternative vocational areas found to stimulate and hold the interest of students.
But JTA president-elect Clayton Hall said the association, based on knowledge and foresight, could not support the abolition of the teaching of any of those subjects.
"Technical and vocational areas are based on the skills set that are required to perform certain tasks and based on that fact, we need these skills set because we will continue to make use of machines and furniture and other things that are going to be a part of our day-to-day lives," he told the Jamaica Observer.
Himself the principal of Spanish Town High, Hall said he knows from personal experience that students gravitate towards vocational areas, especially automechanics, metal work, woodwork, and welding.
"We even do these subjects at the CSEC (Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate) level," Hall noted.
Although he acknowledged that "there may not be an overwhelming demand for jobs in those areas", Hall said society continues to demand skilled craftsmen.
"When you assess the proclivity and aptitude of the students, depending on the level of competence, academically or otherwise, there is going to be a demand for these subjects in different areas," he said.
NPTAJ president Marcia McCausland-Wilson concurred with Hall, noting that, to the best of her knowledge, parents want their children to have these subject areas as options.
"What you find happening now is that it's not just mathematics and English [anymore] and the professions of yesterday like the doctors and the lawyers and so on; those areas are now really cramped if you look at them," she said.
"So there has to be new positions opening up for our children coming up to fit into. It's actually good for parents to really advise their children to welcome this type of intervention and welcome this type of teaching," McCausland-Wilson added, referencing the vocational subject areas.
She noted that these are the areas which will help individuals to create their own jobs and businesses when they leave school.
Meanwhile, Hall said areas such as metal work and woodwork are constantly being revised to keep up with development in technology.
"The thing is, if you went about metal work the way you went about it five years ago or 10 years ago, your modus operandi would have been obsolete because of improvements in technology," he said.
However, Hall has called for instruction and instructors to keep pace with available technological development so "we can constantly be on the cutting edge of development in these areas".
"The relevance of all the areas must be underscored as we will need all these to facilitate development, to facilitate what it is that society is demanding for tomorrow," he said.