by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
- Initial investment to begin technical training is higher than academic programmes
- Hospitality Arts incur the highest overall costs
- $450 for CVQ level 2 qualification at NEWLO
New Life Organisation (NEWLO) Executive Director, Sister Margaret Yamoah, knows all too well the expenses that students from low to middle-income families face on a daily basis.
At the helm of one of Grenada’s educational institutions for technical and vocational training, Sister Margaret believes that the initial investment forInve technical training is higher than academic programmes when all the expenses involved in attaining vocational training are taken into consideration. “Sometimes it is very easy to think that it is just skills training and all they need is to just show up, but until I got involved in NEWLO I didn’t know how expensive technical and vocational education is, which is much more expensive than academic education.”
Depending on the training programme, students pay school fees ranging from $120 to $350, but Sister Margaret said that the fees are not the biggest challenge for students. “For some of them, the challenge is in transportation. You have somebody who for a whole year might pay just about $750 for their full programme for fees, but transportation, they pay close to $3,000, and for some of them where they are living, that is the biggest challenge.”
While some student situations differ, it was found that students within the Hospitality Arts department, particularly in the department for commercial food preparations, incur the highest overall costs. The annual term fee is $1,050 and students wishing to attain higher certification in their respective careers will have to pay $450 for CVQ level 2 qualification at NEWLO. This is in addition to the expenses of practicals and supplies purchases.
“Every week, if they have practicals – sometimes they can do about 2 practicals – a practical can cost about $250 for one, and they are going to go through this for one year. So you can just calculate how much that will be,” said Sister Margaret.
According to former T A Marryshow Community College (TAMCC) chairman Colin Dowe, the average cost per student pursuing academic programmes at TAMCC is $3,877 while the average cost per student in the technical programmes at TAMCC is $5,944. He stated that even if the two high-cost outliers in the technical programmes – Information Technology (IT) and Nutrition and Food Management – were removed, the average cost per student in the technical programmes would be $4,991.
The expenses for vocational programmes come with a high capital investment with some programmes requiring a high upfront cost to purchase perishable and non-perishable items for the Culinary department, or drinks and consumables for the Food and Beverage department, or equipment and vehicle parts for the Automotive Service Technology department. While the latter is not offered at NEWLO, several other programmes will require a high capital cost to ensure that the programmes continue. The programmes offered at NEWLO include:
- Hospitality Arts
- Electrical Installation
- General Construction/Maintenance
- General Cosmetology
- Computer Engineering
- Garment Fashion Design
- Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration
Many of the students who attend NEWLO are from low to middle-income families who struggle to afford the high cost associated with receiving both technical and academic qualification.
Sister Margaret explained the difficulties faced by institutions such as NEWLO to maintain and upkeep the programmes offered. “On the training ground we have to provide the tools and equipment and then the trainee would have their supplies daily for training. Now what we try to do here at NEWLO is to give a lot of hands-on training and so the young people have a lot of financial difficulties.”
With this being the reality for several students, hotelier, Bernardo Bertucci owner of Laluna stepped forward to assist students in need of financial support. 5 students between the ages of 17–24 from the hospitality department were granted scholarships and chosen to represent the hotel as ambassadors. Christy Alexis of Woodlands, St George; Shamol Collins of Gouyave, St John; Reannah Felix, Annandale, St George; Rineka Thomas, Mt Rose, St Patrick and Summer Charles, Balthazar, St Andrew were chosen from 30 students who applied.
Sister Margaret said that although the financial assistance from Laluna will be able to cover most of the costs associated with courses offered within the hospitality department, for some students the scholarship will not stretch to cover transportation costs.
“When we sat down and calculated, for some the $4,000 is just going to be enough to cover everything for them, so it will be able to cover transportation, school fees, CVQ fees, supplies for training and all other expenses that come with it. But for others, especially for those doing the commercial food preparations which is the most expensive, it will cover all the fees with the supplies, but they will have to make their contribution for transportation.”
The 5 students are Laluna ambassadors – to retain their scholarships they are to maintain acceptable grades and exhibit high standards outside of the classroom.