Jamaica News: Ebony Park HEART Academy in Clarendon is calling on Jamaica’s unattached youth to take advantage of the free training programmes and boarding being offered by the organisation for the upcoming academic year.
In an interview with JIS News, Director/Principal, Ebony Park HEART Academy, Robert Green, says there are numerous programmes which 500 unattached persons can be enrolled in annually, which are being offered with free boarding and no tuition cost, but they are required to pay only the cost for registration and uniforms.
“The cost is covered by the Government of Jamaica. Students only have to pay a registration fee of $3,000 and [are] required to get their own uniform and safety wear,” Mr. Green notes.
“The training is funded by the employers of Jamaica who pay their three per cent HEART tax. All agricultural trainees are allowed to live on our dormitories…they are afforded the utilities and three meals each day free. They are required to do some morning duties and make a contribution to the farm, in terms of the practical activities that they undertake,” he adds.
Mr. Green points out that the programmes include: level two ornamental horticulture, level two general agriculture, levels two and three in agro-food processing, level two butchery, level three horticulture turf management, level four agriculture extension services, level two tractor operations and maintenance, and hospitality programmes.
“The agricultural programmes are 12 to 15 months, because someone may start at level two and go on to do a level three programme,” he explains.
The Principal tells JIS News that all trainees are immersed in the practical aspect of the training. “That begins for those on dairy duties. They would go to milk in the morning at 2 o’clock, then everyone would be up at 5 to do the sanitation activities on the farm and go to the units they are assigned until 7:30. They then have breakfast and classes begin at 8:30 a.m.,” he adds.
Mr. Green points out that persons who attend Ebony Park are always in high demand both locally and internationally.
“After completing Ebony Park, trainees go on to one of three options. Most of them move on to the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE) for further studies, some go into entrepreneurial activities and create their own niche market, and some seek employment. We have trainees who have graduated in [horticulture] turf management, [who are now] at the offices of the Prime Minister and the Governor-General, so we are very sure about the quality,” he says.
Ebony Park HEART Academy, which is the top HEART Trust/NTA institution in the island for training and certification in agriculture and occupies some 500 acres of land that are used for training, always tries to align its offerings with the changes the Government intends on implementing, especially with regard to agriculture.
In keeping with this, Mr. Green says the institution has started to focus heavily on agro-food processing, in which Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Audley Shaw, has called for more investment by farmers.
“Agro-food processing is an area where there is a demand and the Minister of Agriculture has indicated that they will be putting in opportunities at the factory to be opened in Kingston for persons who would like to build [on] their entrepreneurial competencies. So, having been trained in agro-food processing, if one did not wish to work with anybody, they can start their own small businesses as entrepreneurs,” he notes.
Mr. Green points out that Ebony Park HEART Academy does entrepreneurial training as part of the course that everybody receives, so they [students] are well-rounded and prepared for this opportunity.
Meanwhile, former student and now Crops Demonstrator, Ebony Park HEART Academy, Jermain Griffith, tells JIS News that enrolling at the institution has changed his life for the better.
“It has been a great experience with the level of exposure and greater experience for me to get out in the world of work. Now, I am gaining experience from teaching students,” he says.
In another interview, agro-food processing student, Brittany Stewart, says she is happy to be enrolled at Ebony Park HEART Academy.
“It’s a very good feeling after leaving high school. I got to show some form of independence boarding here. That is moulding me into what I want to become. I really want to do something in agro-food processing which I am being exposed to here,” she notes.
Persons interested in enrolling in training at the Ebony Park HEART Academy can contact the institution by calling 876-987-1334-6 or by visiting the location in Clarendon.
Source: JIS News