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BTVI Instrumental In Development Of Government Printing Department


As the Government Printing Department (GPD) prepares to celebrate its 41st anniversary this Friday, history would reflect that what it has evolved into began as an apprenticeship program at The Nassau Technical Centre (NTC) The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI).

BTVI’s Manager and Consultant, Dr. Iva Dahl expressed pride that the Government Printing Department originated on the campus of what is BTVI today. The GDP is rresponsible for the stationery and printing for all government ministries and departments.

“It is with a depth of pride that we recognize the role the training and production printing department at NTC played in the apprenticeship program.  The initial six apprentices became fully-trained printers and were instrumental in the advancement of the Government Printing department,” she stated

Dr. Dahl acknowledged the “legacy of craftsmanship” the department has built, adding: “That craftsmanship has become the benchmark of their success, from the printing of programs to the Acts and Statutory Instruments.  Entrusted with the printing of all government documents over these four decades of distinction, the organization has positioned itself as a leader in printing, evolving with technological advances.”

The initial six apprentices who were part of the transition included: Teddy Simmons, Brentley Ferguson, Ken Ferguson, Larry Vanderpool, Ruby Hepburn and Burdina Taylor.

Meanwhile, the department’s Director noted that the GDP has a rich history.

“We have had our successes and challenges. We have all the elements of a good story – character, setting, themes and conflicts,” said Mr. Humes.

“Many government institutions today were not back then.  Where was COB or the Defence Force?” questioned Mr. Humes, adding that “The 41-year evolutionary of the Government Printing Department runs in rough parallel to the history of the modern Bahamas.”

From the initial correspondence on December 9th, 1968 between The Bahamas government and New York print industry consultant Carl Auerhach to conduct a survey for government printing, to the apprenticeship program at the NTC’s Soldier Road campus, Mr. Humes noted that there were “intense deliberations.”

Among key players then were Deputy Prime Minister, Arthur D. Hanna; Hugh Frazer, Establishment Secretary; J. R. Flint, NTC Principal and a Mr. Fletcher, an experienced printing instructor at NTC.

As a result of increased volumes of printing, it was recommended on March 13th, 1970 that the apprenticeship program become a full-blown government printing press with an official superintendent and by 1972, it was moved to quarters outside of NTC.  Today, it is located across the street from BTVI on Soldier Road.

Furthermore, although not a member of the original six apprentices, Shirley Walker-Ferguson joined the team on January 14th, 1974 and for the past 40 years has watched the department’s growth.

“I saw us move from the press to the printer stage.  We still use the press but also have modern equipment.  From forms, booklets and official funeral programs and all the business of parliament, the government saves a lot of money in terms of printing. It’s done here,” she stated.

Beginning as a printing press composer and rising to supervisor of the department, Ms. Walker-Ferguson said there were many long nights.  “We had to pull all-nighters, especially with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting where one night went into the other night. The printer was set up at the hotel,” she reminisced.

“But what keeps us going is we want to see the final product,” she added.

Veteran printer, Philip Major concurred, adding that he has enjoyed the printing business over the past 38 years.  Mr. Major said: “Sometimes there are long nights, but I continue because I love working with the machinery. I love the trade.”

The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI)

VETERAN PRINTERS – Printers Philip Major and Shirley Walker-Ferguson have worked at the Government Printing Department for 38 and 40 years respectively.  They both have watched the department’s growth over the decades.

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