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Seaga urges HEART to train boys in agriculture

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  • Seaga urges HEART to train boys in agriculture

    Seaga urges HEART to train boys in agriculture

    Saturday, November 03, 2007

    FORMER Prime Minister Edward Seaga has urged the national skills training agency - HEART Trust/NTA - to focus on training young men in marketable agricultural skills to give them an option making a living in their rural communities.
    SEAGA. don't go upscale too much that you forget the bottom
    Seaga, who conceptualised and founded HEART, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, said agriculture needs to be presented to young men as an attractive career option.
    He recalled that the Ebony Park HEART Academy in Clarendon was established to teach young people about the technology of farming such as grafting and the use of fertilisers. He said, too, that the growing of strawberries and mushrooms were introduced at Cobbla and Chestervale youth camps, and that the projects were so successful that the crops were being sold in supermarkets and to hotels.
    "We want to encourage boys to do those things because they are small, inexpensive operations to set up," Seaga said of the projects. "I'm convinced that you will not get them (young men) to go back to the land if you tell them to plant the yam and cocoa their fathers did, because they see that their fathers did not get too far, and they have more ambition," Seaga said on Thursday.
    He was speaking at a function in Kingston in recognition of employers for 15 to 25 years of contribution to the HEART Trust/NTA.
    Seaga, who is currently a distinguished fellow of the University of the West Indies also underscored the importance of young people getting into farming.
    "The average age of the farmer today is 65, so it's not going to be too long before we will have no farmers," he said.
    Seaga recalled that although he conceptualised the training agency in 1974 while he was in opposition, it was ignored by the government of the day. HEART was established in 1982 when he was prime minister.
    "I had in mind those same youngsters who had nowhere going. I wanted an institution that would provide them with a second's often when you leave school that you realise what school can do for you," he said.
    The former prime minister congratulated the directors, managers and instructors for expanding the HEART Trust/NTA beyond the boundaries of what he had conceptualised. But he warned them not to forget HEART's original mandate of rescuing those youngsters who had been unsuccessful in passing external examinations.
    "You are on the right track in taking the training to a higher meeting the standard criteria for a globalised world. But don't go upscale too much that you forget the bottom, because there are too many young people down there depending on you to give them your best for their programme of training," said Seaga.
    Executive director of the HEART Trust/NTA, Donald Foster, said the institution had expanded greatly over the years, from enrolling 59 students at its inception, to a target of 107,000 learners in all programmes in 2007-08.
    • Don't let negative things break you, instead let it be your strength, your reason for growth. Life is for living and I won't spend my life feeling cheated and downtrodden.