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Montego Bay Community College expanding offerings to include Mandarin

MONTEGO BAY, St James —The Montego Bay Community College (MBCC) is adding a number of new courses to its offerings as it continues its drive to transform the education landscape in western Jamaica.

Dr Maureen Nelson, principal of the college, informed that among the courses soon to be offered at the 43year-old institution is Mandarin.

“We are about to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Chinese Embassy, and we are very, very excited about it because they are going to give us a Mandarin teacher, a Chinese national, who is going to teach Mandarin, making us the only one of all the community colleges that will offer Mandarin,” Dr Nelson told the Jamaica Observer West recently.

She added that the institution is currently in the process of securing a work permit for the teacher and classes are expected to begin soon.

In recent years, the college has been introducing a number of new courses, including an associate degree in funeral service and mortuary sciences and a bachelor’s degree in plant science, computer and technical studies in a bid to meet the needs of the population.

Plans are also being finalised to offer courses in stenography and to provide training for members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.

At the start of the academic year in September, the college started to offer an associate degree course in criminal justice, as well as associate degree course in phycology. Those courses currently have 32 and 38 students respectively.

Dr Nelson noted that the expansion which is being undertaken through various partnerships is necessary due to the growing demand for those programmes. “We are expanding in many different areas,” a proud Dr Nelson said.

The MBCC, which opened its doors in 1975, currently has an enrolment of approximately 2,000 students and more than 65 lecturers at both its Montego Bay, St James location and its Frome campus in Westmoreland, which came on stream almost 15 years ago.

A distinguished educator for more than four decades, Dr Nelson, who is passionate about moulding the lives of students, has been the principal at the institution for just over two years.

Prior to that, she was a lecturer at the college, the coach of the netball team, and vice principal.

Dr Nelson had also taught at the Hanover based-rusea’s High School, her alma mater.

Nathan Robb, chairman of the MBCC board, whose three-year tenure ends in December, says his mandate is to ensure that the college keeps apace with the demands of education and the economy.

“I am not there to create any legacy. I am simply there to ensure that the institution that it is remains solid and grows, in keeping with the demands of the economy and education,” he emphasised.

He argued that the college, under his watch, recognises that the builders of the society are people who do not necessarily seek out the limelight, but are people who by virtue of their talent and by virtue of their genuine contribution, have long displayed an open public scrutiny and acceptance, and are people who have contributed to the development of the college.

As such, he said, last year, the college inducted Westmoreland businessman Russell Hammond; veteran reggae ambassador Dr James Chambers, better known as “Jimmy Cliff,” and environmentalist Hugh Shim, as honorary fellows.

The trio formed the fifth batch to be awarded as honorary fellows by the tertiary institution that started as an amalgamation of the sixth forms of Cornwall College, Montego Bay High and Mount Alvernia High schools.

The college, which Dr Nelson claims is now ranked as one of the best tertiary institutions in the country, last academic year recorded an average pass mark of 90 per cent in the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE).  (source)