The Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College founded in 1975 by the Ministry of Education and funded by the World Bank II is located in Granville, St. James, approximately six kilometers (6 km) from the centre of Montego Bay, the tourism Mecca of the Caribbean. Built on a hill amidst the villages of Granville, Irwin, Tucker, Pitfour and Retirement, the College was envisioned to be a catalyst in community and human development.
As it carried out its prime mandate of Teacher Education, it would give leadership, mentorship and encouragement to a young and problematic population of Granville and its environs. Its main mission was to the western end of the island - to increase opportunities in education at the tertiary level, thereby improving the quality of life of its people. Built in 1975, by the Government of Jamaica under the World Bank II project, the College began operations as The Granville Training College, in September 1975 with a cohort of 150 students, selected from almost every parish in Jamaica. A month into the start of the institution, it was named The Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College, after the slave and Baptist Deacon Samuel “Daddy” Sharpe who was named National Hero in that year. Rt. Excellent Sam Sharpe had used the opportunity given him by his benevolent master, to not only learn to read and write, but to teach his people about the evils of slavery which went against the teachings of Christianity – ‘No man can serve two masters’- , and made them aware of the movements in England against slavery. His organizational skills were evidenced in the Christmas Rebellion of 1833, when slaves refused to work. The fire in Kensington, a few miles from Granville, was a vivid signal “that no longer they live in slavery”. In the first year, the college catered to Early Childhood and Primary Education. Training was structured on the Internship System of two years in college and one year of internship in schools across the parishes of St. James, Hanover, Westmoreland and Trelawny. In the case of the latter two parishes, the schools identified for Internship were those bordering the other two parishes. In the second year, to provide faculty the experience of supervisory of interns, existing colleges sent students who were either willing to relocate to the area or who were from these parishes, to do their internship under the college’s supervision. For the staff and schools, this was a positive experience that afforded the institution a quick way of understanding and merging into the system of internship. It is significant to note that in this training programme, a level of autonomy was given to each training institution to design its programmes in the first year, within the standards set by the governing body, The Joint Board of Teacher education. This allowed the colleges to not only focus on the developmental needs of the students but to respond to community and societal needs through the work study programme in particular. The relevance of this programme was heightened by the prevailing political ideologies of self reliance and social responsibility. More significantly, ‘this first year autonomy’ enabled the institution to focus on the shortcomings and needs of its entrants and address them in positive ways. The activities were supported by special seminars and visitations by consultant in the field. “Evening at Six” was a programme that comes at a time when it gave students a practical understanding of human and societal development and the role of citizens and leaders. EARLY PROGRAMME CHANGES - SAM SHARPE INTRODUCES THE SECONDARY PROGRAMME In 1978/9, when the demand for early childhood teachers was low, and there was a growing demand for teachers in the secondary programme, the college began offering training in English, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Music and Physical Education as single options, and Visual Arts and Home Economics as double options in the Secondary Programme. (Music as a double option was later introduced when it was seen that persons were entering from the high schools in the area with advanced skills in instrument playing.) The Early Childhood programme was curtailed. By the 1980’s there was public dissatisfaction about the “content” capabilities of the young graduate. It was felt then that they were good in managing the classrooms, but were not well prepared to teach at the expected levels. In addition the matter of parity among tertiary institutions was a vexed question. The training programme was extended then, to three years intramural Diploma Programme rather than the certificate programme. The college, without added infrastructure, had to resort to an operation that saw two thirds of its population non- residential. For the first five years of the programme, the new entry requirements had seen a decrease in students pursuing the teacher training programme. The preliminary year programme, however, took up the slack by providing upgrading opportunities for applicants to qualify fully for entry. This attracted young school leavers from the new high schools, many of whom had not thought of teaching as a career and most importantly had not had the benefit of teachers preparing them for the CXC. The College was able to attract and convince persons who had really only wanted an opportunity for acquiring Caribbean Examination Council’s (CXC) for other endeavours, to enroll in the teacher training programme. The extra – curricular activities and the personal development emphasis contributed to this. In addition, the preliminary year prepared the student for the tertiary level studies and created a new outlook in the minds of these young students. In the mid-eighties, a self help drive was initiated and a two-storey block of seven classrooms and music “studio” was built to accommodate the additional programmes and options offered. THE DIPLOMA PROGRAMME 1980 – 2000 In 1980, the three year Diploma was introduced in all Colleges and the entry qualifications were raised to at least 4 CXC, passes including English and Mathematics. The preliminary programme was instituted to upgrade prospective applicants, in particular those from the new secondary schools, who had not been given the opportunity to CXC. This programme lost government support some five years later as it was seen as a secondary level repeat programme. This was accompanied by the Government’s closure of tertiary institutions and programmes. Applicants were now coming with the minimum requirements. But the momentum was lost and enrollment again declined. In recent years, the entrants were surpassing minimum requirements of four CXC subjects, albeit that Mathematics and Science still remained challenges for many. It should be noted the new secondary were still our main source of applicants. Their curriculum emphasis seemed to be on the technical and business subjects. This meant that the general education that would come from immersed such as Literature, Social Studies, and General Science, giving them the depth for the Primary school programme in particular and education in general was limited. Emphasis then shifted to giving more time to a scope of studies that was content based. In 2002/3, with the Revised Diploma Training programme, Regulations changed to require students to enter with four subjects, including English, a science subject or a social science subject and mathematics. As of 2004/5, the minimum requirement increased to five “CXCs” or their equivalent. Again the stipulation that they enter with English, Mathematics, a Natural Science subject and a Social Science subject, was to ensure that some basic prerequisites for teaching would be there. For certain specialization, particularly in the Secondary programme, students must attain high profiles at least the Grade II, General Proficiency or above. FURTHER PROGRAMME CHANGES RESULTED FROM THE RATIONALIZATION OF 2000 In 2000, the MOEYC introduced a rationalization of college programmes as part of its drive for efficiency in the system. This college was required to discontinue the secondary programme and to resume training in Early Childhood. The Special Education Programmed and the programme in Guidance and Counselling retained. It had been projected that students would have enrolled in the colleges offering the programme they were interested in. From the start, however, persons changed options/programmes rather than leave the area or college of their choice. After graduation many got jobs outside their areas of specialization. The primary schools suffered because good primary teachers of Mathematics, Science and Language Arts did not take up the positions in primary schools but went to secondary schools. This further compounded the problems of one teaching one’s programme. The perceived ease of teaching at the secondary level had attracted many students to this programme. The workload of the primary programme does not have appeal the Secondary programme has. Further, for the males, teaching at the Primary and Early Childhood levels is not desirable in. Thus the College has seen an even greater decline in enrolment of male students to the College. The current programmes offered are the three year diploma in Teaching. Persons are prepared for the Early Childhood, Primary, Guidance and Counselling, Music, English Language/Literature, Spanish, and primary sectors of the Education System. The programmes are delivered both fulltime and part-time. The latter is mainly for the working person or “pre-trained” teacher who wants to be trained as a teacher
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