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Digicel improves conditions at Kingston Practical Institute; appeal sounded for new equipment

kingston_picAlmost 600 students can now pursue studies in various skilled trades in much more conducive conditions now that the Kingston Practical Institute has been rehabilitated with assistance from Digicel (Guyana) Limited but they need better equipment.

However, authorities hope that the equipment being used by students and teachers could be replaced or upgraded. Chief Education Officer, Marcel Hutson hoped that Digicel would continue to upgrade the institution. “If I know Digicel well, this will not be a one-time thing. I am sure that at some point in time they will have a walk-through of the building and they will have a look at some of the machinery that we have there and they might say ‘we want to change some of those machines’ and I think they are capable of doing,” he said.

Left to right: The winners of Digicel's Waves community project competition- Senior Workforce Analyst, Yancey Heywood and Workforce Analyst, Rowena Elliot- Digicel (Guyana) Marketing Manager, Jacqueline James; Technical Adviser to the Minister of Education, Vincent Alexander and Chief Education Officer, Marcel Hutson shotly after James and Alexander unveiled the plaque.

Left to right: The winners of Digicel’s Waves community project competition- Senior Workforce Analyst, Yancey Heywood and Workforce Analyst, Rowena Elliot- Digicel (Guyana) Marketing Manager, Jacqueline James; Technical Adviser to the Minister of Education, Vincent Alexander and Chief Education Officer, Marcel Hutson shotly after James and Alexander unveiled the plaque.

Hutson urged the teachers to take advantage of the  new layout. “Teachers must use the building effectively. Plan your lessons,” he said that even practical instructors must have lesson plans. The Chief Education Officer also called on the students to utilize their time wisely when they attend the KPI and care the building.

Technical Adviser to the Minister of Education, Vincent Alexander  noted that for several decades, corporate neighbours of the KPI (formerly the Kingston Practical Instruction Centre) have done nothing for that institution. “We had a history where corporate responsibility had been negative in the past and has hindered the development of this school. We had corporate neighbours who had impeded the development of this school,” said Alexander, a former student of that institution 50 years ago.

The mobile phone and data service provider funded the rehabilitation of the decades-old wooden building located at Cowan and Water Streets, Kingston to the amount of more than US$10,000. The proposal to rehabilitate the centre was submitted to Digicel’s Waves, a competitive process, by two Guyanese staff members, Workforce Analyst, Rowena Elliott and Senior Workforce Analyst, Yancey Heywood.

Decades-old equipment at the Kingston Practical Institute that authorities need help in replacing.

Decades-old equipment at the Kingston Practical Institute that authorities need help in replacing.

“We seek to empower our staff in reaching out to the needs within their community and their neighbouring surroundings,” said Digicel (Guyana), Marketing Manager, Jacqueline James. She said the project was initially focused on restoring the classrooms on the ground floor and conducting minor repairs on the upper floor, but eventually more cash was added to expand the work. “Fortunately or unfortunately for them, based on the funds that they won, it was not enough to complete the project so at Digicel we decided we will put some more money towards it… and we are still putting a little more ,” she said.

James said Digicel’s contribution has seen the century-old building now having a reinforced concrete-based foundation, new classrooms that are now separated from each other.  The Digicel official promised that her company would continue to improve the facility. “It is evident that Digicel has a passion for the development of our youths and we are dedicated to this throughout Guyana,”  she said.

Students at the commissioning of the rehabilitated Kingston Practical Institute

Students at the commissioning of the rehabilitated Kingston Practical Institute

Currently, the KPI has 586 students drawn from Queenstown, Kingston, St.Winifred’s and David Rose Secondary Schools. Subjects being offered are Building Technology (woodwork construction), Mechanical Engineering (Metalwork /Welding), Brickwork and Technical Drawing.

Trainee teachers in Industrial Technology use the KPI to gain practical experience, marking long-standing cooperation between that institution and the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE).