BGIS Media Release
by Joy-Ann Gill
A new CAPE subject, added by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) has been lauded by Acting Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Senator Harry Husbands and recommended to students.
The Acting Minister congratulated CXC for launching the Tourism subject today during a ceremony at the Accra Beach Hotel, noting that it showed the region was focusing on areas that were “acutely important to us” and in the new economy, offered “exciting employment opportunities” to young people.
Acknowledging that the new course was “a good starting point” for preparing students for careers in tourism, the Senator Husbands said with youth unemployment at crisis level, research indicated that they would have to be prepared to change jobs many times in their lives.
“If you are not so prepared life will pass you by…You are being prepared not only for jobs here at Accra [Beach Resort], Sandals or Sandy Lane [Hotel]. If you decide on a career in tourism remember that this is an international career. You cannot reach the very highest levels of this career if you only work here, at Accra, [or the] Hilton [hotel]… You have to be prepared and accept this…” Senator Husbands observed.
While stressing that the programme was not just about the grade students would achieve, he said they had to be conscious of their long-term goals and the need to internationalise their career. “I think this is one of the things that the framers of this programme had in mind when it was developed,” he noted.
Meanwhile, syllabus contributor and lecturer/coordinator of MSc. Tourism programmes at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Dr. Sherma Roberts, said the CAPE course would bridge “the tourism education gap, by offering students at secondary schools the opportunity to pursue CAPE tourism as a Next Generation subject.”
Stating that this visionary step could only redound to the benefit of the region’s tourism industry, Dr. Roberts outlined the rationale behind the programme. She said since tourism was critical to the social and economic development of the region, then its competitiveness, viability and sustainability could only be enhanced through investment in the region’s human resources at all levels.
The tourism specialist said a survey of the current hospitality and tourism education programmes that were not at the university level, suggested that the focus was on service-oriented courses. “There was a pressing need to change the perception among our young people of tourism studies as a runner-up choice at the stage where it matters,” she reflected.
It was also noted that there was the recognition that the global tourism industry was becoming increasingly sophisticated and knowledge driven. She therefore, recommended that if the region was to maintain a dominant position, it would need to attract and capture at a very early stage “the brightest and the best students”.
Dr. Roberts further pointed out that there was a greater developmental objective behind the new subject – that of: “How can we use the CAPE Tourism syllabus as a vehicle through which we can influence, inspire and nurture the ideal tourism person as articulated by CARICOM?”
Explaining that at first this task seemed herculean, she said the panel members and regional assessors were able to develop a curriculum that reflected the interconnectedness of the industry, that emphasised the need for a our cultural heritage and that fuelled the creative imagination of the budding entrepreneur.”
The launch in Barbados will be followed by others in Guyana on May 12, and with a focus on Agricultural Science; Trinidad and Tobago on May 15 focused on- Entrepreneurship; St. Lucia, May 16 targetting Performing Arts and on May 20, in Jamaica with a focus on Physical Education and Sport.