Hon. Myron Walwyn, Education and Culture Minister
Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
Minister for Education and Culture, Hon. Myron Walwyn has given a commitment to ensure that the BVI Technical and Vocational Institute (BVITVI) at Baugher´s Bay will become a proper public secondary school.
He said that for far too long in the community, without knowing it, `we have created an environment where persons that are knowledgeable in the technical fields are not celebrated as much as the lawyers and doctors´.
"Because of this, we are now sourcing labourers from as far east as the Philippines to be our electricians, plumbers and engineers. If you go to any construction site, any hair salon, garment maker, or any electronics shop in the Virgin Islands, you will be able to see for yourself that the large majority of these vocational workers are imported," Minister Walwyn said during the BVITVI graduation ceremony at the Purcell Community Centre, June 27.
He said that he does not believe that children and students cannot learn technical skills, but he believes that as a community, policy makers, administrators and educators, have sent the wrong message to youth about opportunities in the technical field.
According to the Minister, `we have allowed ourselves to believe that it is only persons who have difficulties learning go into technical fields, and that is the furthest thing from the truth´.
The Minister said that he must confess that in the Ministry and Department of Education, 'we have failed in our systems, policies and our outlook on students that challenge traditional learning methods'.
"We are the ones that have failed in realizing that not all students learn at the same rate, some students may need special attention and some students are simply late bloomers, and their learning comes with their maturity. We end up putting the students that challenge us in poorly funded programmes and with fewer opportunities to succeed. We have failed to realize that it our responsibility to facilitate learning for all of our students. As Minister of Education, I want to unequivocally apologize to our students and to our community for not facilitating the appreciation of trade skills as viable opportunities in education," Minister Walwyn stated.
Despite this, the Minister said that the community should celebrate the endurance of the 14 students who graduated yesterday and the fact that they have been able to acquire skills in air condition and refrigeration, small engine repair, visual arts, electronics, and cosmetology.
He said that these are skills that are needed in the community and will provide the graduates with their first opportunity to become gainfully employed.
He reminded that after taking office last year, a committee was formed to assist the Ministry in reforming its approach to technical and vocational education.
Minister Walwyn said that though the committee is still meeting and will provide a comprehensive proposal with recommendations for improved technical education in the territory, the Minister has already started work to develop the BVITVI into what will be the main learning centre for secondary school vocational training.
According to the Minister, plans are already in place to start renovations during the summer break at the school and there are plans to acquire additional space to improve the facilities while investing in additional teachers and learning tools to adequately instruct students.
"By the fall of 2013, your school at Baughers Bay will properly become the fourth public secondary school in the Virgin Islands. It will also be the only secondary school offering students the opportunity to specialize in a technical area for the majority of their high school tenure. It is my hope that this move will afford students added options for career paths while serving the urgent need in our community to find and employ skilled trades men and women," Minister Walwyn stated.