Min­istry would wel­come Knock­alva Agri­cul­tural School – Karl Sa­muda

Jamaica Gleaner - - CLASSIFIEDS - Clau­dia Gard­ner As­sign­ment Co­or­di­na­tor

WEST­ERN BU­REAU: INISTER OF Agri­cul­ture Karl Sa­muda says the prospect of the Knock­alva Agri­cul­tural School be­ing handed over to his min­istry would be more than wel­come as it could serve as an eco­nomic driver by en­gag­ing youth and adults in agri­cul­ture and agribusi­ness.

The min­is­ter was re­spond­ing to ques­tions posed by West­ern Fo­cus about the low en­rol­ment at the 76-year-old in­sti­tu­tion and an ear­lier rec­om­men­da­tion by Prime Min­is­ter Andrew Hol­ness (in March 2015 while he was leader of the Op­po­si­tion) for it to be, among other things, trans­ferred to the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture.

“Noth­ing has been said to me yet about the mat­ter. If they speak to me about it, I would look at it and cer­tainly re­ceive it ... be­cause I am a firm be­liever in youth in agri­cul­ture. That is one of my great pri­or­i­ties. This would be a great op­por­tu­nity to pro­mote train­ing of youths in the field of agri­cul­ture. I will seek to find out ... . I would re­ceive the gift (Knock­alva) with open arms as long as it comes with a lit­tle bud­get,” Sa­muda said.

Last year, Hol­ness had also ex­pressed con­cern about the fo­cus on agri­cul­tural schools at the sec­ondary level, and con­tended that the in­sti­tu­tions had not per­formed at ex­pected lev­els. He also sug­gested that there be a re­think­ing of the idea of al­low­ing stu­dents to spe­cialise in agri­cul­ture at such an “early” stage, sug­gest­ing it to be a “post-sec­ondary”

MKarl Sa­muda

en­deav­our. Knock­alva was al­lo­cated $56.7 mil­lion for spe­cial­ist train­ing in agri­cul­tural ed­u­ca­tion last year.

Newly ap­pointed prin­ci­pal of the school, Davia Ramgeet Robinson, had told West­ern Fo­cus last week that the school, which was built to ac­com­mo­date 300 board­ers, had only 102 stu­dents en­rolled up to that point.

RE­BRAND­ING

But one past stu­dent of the in­sti­tu­tion, Liv­ingston Binns, who is now mar­ket­ing man­ager at Is­land Dairies, told West­ern Fo­cus that what Knock­alva needs to do is re­brand and re­new it­self, bet­ter en­gage its alumni, and re­ac­ti­vate its ex­tra-cur­ric­u­lar pro­grammes, and then stu­dents will be at­tracted to the in­sti­tu­tion.

“Def­i­nitely, the school needs re­brand­ing. It has to re­brand. It is for­got­ten,” Binns said. “They have the land space; they have build­ings. That is some­thing that could be de­vel­oped also. You could de­velop sports. Very lit­tle is done in sports at Knock­alva. In my time, there used to be a very good cadet corps. We used to com­pete against Munro, Corn­wall, Rusea’s – all those tra­di­tional schools – in DaCosta Cup foot­ball and Headley Cup cricket,” he added.

“The tra­di­tional schools – the KCs and those schools – they get a lot of sup­port from old stu­dents. And those Knock­alva old stu­dents that you can find now, you could get us to­gether and that group would be a re­source bank for the school.

“You have a lot of past stu­dents in dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions. So if it means that the school wants to re­brand, then be­cause of our as­so­ci­a­tion and where we are em­ployed and the en­ter­prises we own, we can use our com­pa­nies to spon­sor projects and that sort of thing,” Binns added.

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