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Jun 21, 2005

S.J.C. unveils big plans for campus

Story PictureHigher education: it’s a goal to which more Belizeans than ever before are aspiring. But will our institutions of advanced learning be ready? One school is outlining some bold plans for the future.

Janelle Chanona, Reporting
This month Saint John?s College officially released its plans to dramatically expand the educational institution?s main campus. The new additions include several buildings to house classrooms, laboratories and athletic facilities as well as a new access road from University Drive.

Frank Garbutt, President, St. John?s College
?In the new campus that we are envisioning there will be a great emphasis on adult education and training as well as other areas that are now critical for the growth of the school, such as information technology, athletic fields, hospitality and tourism management, which is a new thing for us, and equally so too, science, so that we are going to see great expansion in these areas.?

?So it is a combination of meeting the school?s direct needs through its academic programme and curriculum, as well as meeting the growing needs of the community whereby we are not having sufficient facilities for our youngest to be able to be in a healthy and safe environment.?

S.J.C. held its first classes in 1887; establishing itself at Loyola Park in 1917, but that southside campus was completely destroyed by the 1931 Hurricane. Since then the institution?s infrastructure has struggled to keep up with a steadily increasing student body. According to S.J.C., today more than three thousand students attend classes at the institution?s high school, sixth form, extension, and certification programmes. President of S.J.C., Frank Garbutt says the growing enrolment has prompted the Board of Trustees to change the landscape at the Landivar campus… And according to Garbutt, the plans will be implemented in several phases.

Frank Garbutt
?Right now though our focus is on Jacoby Hall, where for the high school we are looking to put in three new classrooms, two new computer labs as well as a new drafting room, and on the top floor, four new science labs which will be geared only towards the high school students and most likely the extension will be using those facilities as well.?

This morning Garbutt told News Five that key to the success of the school?s development will be the support of its alumni.

Frank Garbutt
?It will definitely run us in the millions of dollars. It is not going to be cheap. It is going to major investment on the part of the school, but if you look at S.J.C.?s history, it has been an institution that has proven that it is willing to invest to offer the best education possible so that no doubt it will call for a heavy investment, but one which I think is worthwhile and need to be made. So that, yes, it?s going to be a big task on our part to tap into our alumni and the alumni board is already well organised.?

But if S.J.C. is to grow, the question arises of where it will fit into Belize?s rapidly changing educational landscape. According to Garbutt, the plan is to compliment not conflict with other local institutions.

Frank Garbutt
?Education in this country when you look at how young a population we have, it?s not something that any one institution on a whole can have a monopoly. It is greatly something that different institutions across the country, in the different the districts, will have to grapple with as to how to best develop to meet those different needs. So whether it is in our junior college, our the high school, our extension, or the new Institute for Professional Studies that we are going to launch shortly, it is just a matter of ensuring that what we have is the best facilities, the best equipment, the best staff, and a mission and goal that?s driving that to promote quality and productive citizens.?

According to Garbutt there are currently six hundred and eighteen students enrolled in S.J.C.’s extension programme, while another thousand attend the high school’s and sixth form’s day and night classes.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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