FOOD and nutrition teachers at St. Lucia’s secondary schools are getting the opportunity to be coached by some of the island’s leading chefs at a summer internship programme organised by the St. Lucia Hotel & Tourism Association in collaboration with the Ministry of Education TVET Unit.
The programme consists of a two-week internship during which the participating teachers will receive training aimed at bringing them up to date with current industry standards in food handling and preparation, as well as occupational health and safety requirements.
A number of chefs from some of the island’s major resorts will be conducting the training exercise. The teachers are expected to impart their acquired knowledge and techniques to the food and nutrition students in their respective classes. The programme is scheduled to commence during the schools’ summer vacation.
A briefing session was organised for the internees and some of the tutoring chefs on Thursday (June 28) at the SLHTA’s Hospitality Training Centre in Rodney Bay. It was attended by Curriculum Officer in the Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Unit at the Ministry of Education, Mary Solange Augier and Tourism Enhancement Fund Project Coordinator, Wendel George.
Ms Augier said the Ministry is appreciative of its collaborating with the SLHTA, adding that several teachers have benefitted from the programme since its introduction last year.
“We collaborated last year on this same exercise and the feedback coming from many of the teachers was really good. They learnt quite a bit. Some of them went even further than doing the two-week programme and did an additional week because they felt that it was really meaningful for them professionally as food and nutrition teachers. So it was a really good exercise and we are happy that the SLHTA has agreed to work with us again this year,” said Ms Augier.
The Summer Internship Programme corresponds with the food and nutrition curriculum for secondary schools, which has since been revised to include industrial food preparation, Ms Augier explained.
“We’re trying to train the teachers who are already in the system to meet the goal of getting this additional training in the commercial food prep area so that they can impart it to the students. We’re also looking at in terms of helping them to develop the right attitude towards food safety and occupational health and safety. For example, making sure they are properly attired. In food and nutrition classrooms we don’t insist on these requirements but if you’re in the industry, these are things you must be knowledgeable about. We’re hoping that just the whole industry experience will be a rewarding one for the teachers,” Ms Augier added.
Tourism Enhancement Fund Project Coordinator, Wendel George said the SLHTA is pleased that the Ministry of Education has given its support to the programme and embraced the opportunity to enhance the teachers’ knowledge of recommended practices for commercial food handling and safety.
“One way to teach children about food safety and nutrition is to teach their teachers. That’s the idea behind the SLHTA Summer Internship Programme. It provides the teachers with supplemental knowledge to help them bridge any gaps between what is being taught in the classroom and the food handling practices at commercial food handling establishments, such as hotels. This information is extremely important, not just academically but in terms of strengthening the foundations of St. Lucia’s vital tourism and hospitality sectors by allow our industry chefs to pass on their knowledge to up-and-coming generations,” he added.
The Summer Internship Programme for teachers complements the SLHTA Chefs in Schools programme, which is also sponsored by Tourism Enhancement Fund. It allows hotel chefs to visit schools around the island teaching the students about the tourism industry and the career opportunities available to them within the industry. In the run-up to the Chefs in Schools Cook-off Competition they conduct an internship programme for the competing school teams and teach them how to sharpen their skills. (SLHTA)