The Montego Bay Community College is a dynamic tertiary institution in Western Jamaica meeting the needs for effective, efficient, and economical delivery of quality tertiary level education. The institution has four academic departments which offer a wide range of academic programmes namely: Bachelor’s Degrees, Associate Degrees, Diplomas, and Certificate Programmes in Business, Computer & Technical Studies, Humanities as well as Hospitality, Health & Creative Studies. Montego Bay Community College is a government owned institution, and comprises two campuses; the main campus is located in Montego Bay, St. James and the second campus is located in Frome, Westmoreland. Many programmes offered by the college are available on both campuses.
THE EARLY YEARS
The college was established in 1975 as a sixth form college based on the campuses of Mount Alvernia High School, Montego Bay High School and Cornwall College. Since the schools individually had very small sixth forms, the college was established to make optimum use of limited resources. Each campus offered a particular set of subjects and students were stationed according to the set of subjects that they were studying. The students continued to wear the uniforms of their former schools even when stationed on other campuses. Sometimes students had to commute between different campuses because their chosen subjects were not offered in combination on a single campus. This situation was of course, untenable. Therefore, in September 1978, the college moved to its present location at Alice Eldemire Drive.
Business Studies and Architectural Technology were added to the programme offerings and the evening school started. In July 1979, its first graduating class consisted of seventy one students. Among them was Yvette Lemonias, winner of the Jamaica Scholarship for girls that year.
Mrs. Olive Lewis was the first acting principal of the college under whose short tenure the college was initially organized at its present location. Mrs. Ivy Townsend who became principal shortly after, writing in the first edition of The Courier, a Montego Bay Community College magazine published in 1979, recalled the early years of the college, paying tribute to the principals of the high schools which originally housed the college and went on to vividly describe the teething pains experienced at Alice Eldemire Drive:
The task of the college started at its Freeport site, fell to Mrs. Olive Lewis, first acting Principal. At short notice Mrs. Lewis recruited staff (two full time teachers and a team of part timers), enrolled students and made arrangements to begin classes on September 18, 1978. Amid the sound of hammers, saws, concrete mixers and the chatter of workmen, classes began in three classrooms for the upper sixth formers, who were transferred from the three high schools.
Later, as space became available, students were enrolled for Secretarial Studies, Business Studies and Architectural Technology. Our Lower Sixth form students were based at Cornwall College and we must thank Dr D. Stokes for undertaking responsibility for these students. The school then had a total enrolment of 242 students, nine full time lecturers and some part time teachers.
Next academic year, the College planned to introduce Food and Beverage Management, Clothing and Fashion, Hotel Management and Arts and Craft. The plan was to enroll about 380-400 students who would all be based at the Freeport site.