BERRY Islanders have joined the ranks of graduates of a general maintenance course offered by the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute.
The 16-week course, offered for the first time in the Berry Islands and run over 10 hours on Fridays and Saturdays, included the fundamentals of carpentry, plumbing, tiling and electrical installation and the 29 graduates included students of the R N Gomez All Age School and a few adults.
BTVI’s Academic Dean, Pleshette McPhee, told graduates at their ceremony held at St Bartholomew’s Anglican Church, Bullocks Harbour, Berry Islands, that with global competitiveness, higher education is becoming increasingly critical.
“Through tertiary education, individuals are armed with a multitude of skills relevant for improving their lives within a society,” she said. “As critical thinkers, entrepreneurs, innovators and engineers, educated citizens share the responsibility to be catalysts for change.”
Ms McPhee commended the Berry Islands Homeowners Association (BIHA) and the community at large for playing an integral role in helping the participants. “I urge you to continue to support and empower the youth because this is certainly the only way our future can be secured,” she said.
R N Gomez’ principal, Brian Williams, eachoed her sentiments, saying the partnership with BTVI is just the beginning and encouraged the graduates. “Crime is out of control, but you are moving in the right direction. Our future is bright. Our future is secured,” he said.
Among those at the event were BTVI’s Dean of Construction Trades, Alexander Darville; Chief Councillor, Cardinal Rolle and Michelle Bowleg, Education District Superintendent.
Additionally, president of the BIHA, William Kalis, expressed his continued
support of such initiatives sponsored by the association. He reminded the graduates that they are an important part of the world economy; therefore, they should give good customer service.
“Tourists go where they find value and we, as a small community, are competing on the world stage,” he said. “The world is our oyster. We’re an integral part of the tourism economy and we can get our fair share, but we have to be focused on offering a competitive product,” said Mr Kalis.
Deputy Head Boy of R N Gomez, Pharon Winder, recognised the significance of the course and how it factors into his future. “It was needed. I will need some of these skills on the Defence Force and even on a daily basis,” said the 16-year-old. “This can take me far. I can show others what I have learned and build on my experience.”
Janette Taylor, 49, was beaming with excitement. “I have a building I am opening and can hook up lights, do some plumbing and some carpentry,” she said. “It was very helpful and it made me feel young. Those teachers were so good.”
BTVI had conducted the same course in Harbour Island, Cat Island, Andros, and Exuma.