Officials: Sam Sharpe, Edna Manley collab paying off
MONTEGO BAY, St James — Vinton Haughton, senior lecturer in music at Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College, has described the first year of the institution’s collaboration with the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts as a major success.
Just last year, both tertiary institutions signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to facilitate the teaching of Edna Manley-originated music programmes at the Montego Bay-based teachers’ college. The programme offerings include the Associate of Arts in Music, fundamentals of music literacy and performance, plus short courses from the School of Continuing Education and Allied Programmes.
The decision to collaborate, Haughton told the Jamaica Observer in a recent interview, was fuelled by the desire to offer music students a choice to pursue their education in the western region. He stated that with financial burdens discouraging a lot of aspirations, the institutions are seeking to bridge a gap on this side of the island.
This offer, Haughton noted, was taken up by seven students who have so far excelled in the first year of the programme.
“It is the first time that Edna Manley College has franchised a programme and so there are a few challenges, but it has been rewarding. We have the first cohort of seven students and they are excited. We have had some success stories, in terms of some achievements in their performance skills,” said the senior lecturer.
According to Haughton, students pursuing the associate degree can go on to complete their studies at Edna Manley’s main campus in Kingston. He pointed out that this degree gives students access to matriculate into the Bachelor of Music Education and the Bachelor of Music in Performance programmes.
At the same time, he pointed to the importance of the fundamentals of music literacy and performance programme on students who are interested in studying music but were never previously exposed to the art.
“That is a precollege programme which would bring students up to the matriculation requirements they need to do the music degree programmes. CSEC [Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate] music is not very common in quite a lot of our high schools, so we have students with the talent, but they did not get an opportunity to do some advanced studies in music during their high school years,” Haughton told the Sunday Observer.
The senior lecturer added, “They can opt to take that certification programme and that would allow them to matriculate into year one of a degree programme.”
He was also quick to point out that the Edna Manley College students who opt to study at the teachers’ college are given the same quality of education that they would receive in Kingston.
“The students are at the same standard and are involved in some of the same activities as if they are on the main campus in Kingston. Some of the courses are even taught by lecturers on the main campus while some are taught virtually,” he told the Sunday Observer.
With “one successful year” down, Haughton is looking forward to expanding the art programme offerings at Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College to encourage more students to study in the region.
“We see us being able to franchise the entire programme…with all four years being offered in Montego Bay. Also, the discussions are far afoot now to include other programmes from the schools of drama, visual arts, and dance. The discussions have also included us being able to offer short courses in photography and ceramics,” said Haughton.
In the meantime, the senior lecturer said that more students are becoming aware of the programme offerings and have expressed a desire to come on board.
“We have had an increase in enrollment. I think it was a 75 per cent increase in the number of applications for this upcoming year, so we are now preparing to welcome those students into their first year of this programme,” Haughton said.
Haughton is also encouraging interested students and secondary music teachers to spread the word about the programme offerings.
“Collaboration has been a hallmark of quite a few of our tertiary education in Jamaica and so the option of going into Kingston is not necessarily a must. You can stay right here in Montego Bay and complete an entire programme and benefit from the same kind of experience, academic engagements, and cultural and performing engagements that you would have had in Kingston,” he said.
“We have lots of performance opportunities in the hotels,” Haughton added.
For his part, Andre Adman, dean of the School of Music at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts told the Sunday Observer that the partnership is “an exciting endeavour that has poised us for great things in music education in Jamaica”.
“The arrangement is special for a myriad of reasons. Firstly, it affords access to tertiary-level music education to students on the western end of the island, particularly St Ann, St James, and Trelawny. This simply means more students from the west who are passionate about studying music will be given the opportunity to do so,” said Adman.
He added, “Prior to this move, students would travel to Kingston, take part in an audition, and if accepted, they would acquire funds for tuition fees, boarding and living expenses — a very costly venture. With this franchise arrangement, students are now able to pursue tertiary-level music education at a fraction of the cost.”
Adman also pointed out that this move is intended to encourage the quality and quantity of music teachers being sent out of the teachers’ college.
“Secondly, the arrangement increases the offerings in the arts in our teachers’ colleges, which I view as advantageous given the importance of music in our culture and the role music education plays in its sustainability. As we work with other tertiary-level institutions we hope, in the long run, this will increase the pool of music educators. This I have mentioned considering the migration of several teachers to other spaces — music educators included,” Adman told the Sunday Observer.