September 27, 2013
STATHS seeks funding for agricultural-science programme
SHELDON WILLIAMS, STAFF REPORTER
The St Andrew Technical High School (STATHS) is seeking funding and other resources to realise the full potential of its thriving agricultural-science programme that began in 2003.
The school is in need of water tanks, 25 bee boxes, 30 vales, 10 hive tools, 10 smokers, seedlings, 10 bee chugs, and 50 pineapple suckers, among other things. Most importantly, a tractor is needed.
Agricultural-science teacher Audley Sanson explained, "First thing we need is a tractor and we can't get a tractor.We need one to plough the land. Once the tractor has a disc plough and disc harrow, we good, we will take it from there."
The programme began successfully with 25 students enrolled, and 24 earned passes. Since then, the curriculum has expanded into the TVET(Technical Vocational Education and Training) Rationalisation Programme and the institution became a LAP (Learning assistance Programme) school.
The school's area of focus is crop production and tractor maintenance.
There are now 785 students enrolled at different levels of agricultural-science classes at the institution, with more showing an interest but cannot be accommodated.
A trip to the institution last week revealed that much emphasis is being placed on expanding the curriculum, as STATHS is a participant in a cluster programme that accommodates students from other schools.
Denham Town high school, Charlie Smith, Excelsior high school and Trench Town high school send students to STATHS, as it has the necessary land space.
A greenhouse is sited on about an acre-and-a-half of unoccupied land available for open-field farming. A pig pen was also observed.
"For livestock, we do bees, pigs, rabbits, and poultry (broilers and layers)," Sanson added.
Sanson explained, "the greenhouse was granted two years ago and it has been under production. It is 11 by 66 metres.The total capacity for plants is 750 to 800. So we split it in half, sweet pepper on one side and tomato on another side."
Sanson also re-emphasised that a large number of students continue to show interest in the programme and are keen on developing the necessary agricultural skills that can determine their earning potential when they enter the workforce.
"Because agricultural is taken up.We have more students now in the school that are doing agricultural science.What we are doing now is that in first and second form, we introduce all the students to every technical vocational area, and then now they will do it in nine grade and select it as their option area in 10 grade and they carry it in 11 grade," Sanson added.
Glenroy Williams, 4h club leader at the institution and president of the 4h club for Kingston emphasised the suitability of the school for agricultural science expansion.
"This is the only school in Kingston that has land facility to do agriculture," he said.
The school is also a participant in the school-garden programme, which contributes to the feeding of students and staff alike.
Bevene Martin, deputy parish agriculture manager at Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), confirmed RADA is aware of the funding needed by the institution to expand the programme.