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Let’s not sacrifice our young people on the altar of politics

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Tue, Sep 30, 2014

One good thing that has come out of the whole debate on the Associate Degrees being offered by the St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College (SVGCC) is that we are now much better informed (or should be) about how the accreditation process works and what terms such as matriculation, articulation and recognition mean in the world of academia.{{more}}

Credit for much of the clarity which we now have must go to deputy director of the SVGCC Nigel Scott, who last week made the rounds of the radio and television stations, and did an excellent job at elucidating us on the status of the different associate degree programmes offered by the college and how the process of becoming accredited works. Mr Scott was very clear, detailed and credible when he spoke, and we hope that his explanations were sufficient to calm the fears and restore the confidence of the students of the SVGCC and their parents.

For, without a doubt, because of the emphatic nature of the recent pronouncements of the Leader of the Opposition that the associate degrees of the SVGCC are not worth the paper they were written on, the confidence of some students and parents, who previously were quite satisfied with the certification they were being offered by the Community College, was shaken.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with conducting due diligence on or asking probing questions about the premier tertiary educational institution operating in our midst; as a matter of fact, it is highly recommended, but influential people in our small society should ensure that before they speak on important issues such as this, their pronouncements have been thoroughly researched and are true.

The University of the West Indies has stated in writing that persons holding associate degrees with a minimum grade point average of 2.5 from tertiary level institutions in the region may use those qualifications to gain entry into the degree programmes of the UWI. They have also said that in addition to this general policy for the region, the UWI has special agreements with the SVGCC in relation to particular associate degree programmes, granting graduates of those programmes advanced standing at the university. The university has also noted however, that while having an Associate Degree grants one normal matriculation, entry may not be guaranteed as entry to some faculties is highly competitive, meaning that the better a student’s grades, the greater the chances of gaining admission.

It is therefore puzzling that even with this communication from the UWI and the information from Mr Scott that many students have gained admission to universities in the region and internationally on the basis of their Associate Degrees, that the Leader of the Opposition is still adamant in his position. Why would the professionals at the SVGCC risk their reputations by being dishonest in this matter and why would they be willing participants in a charade such as this? What would the UWI have to gain by trying to cover up for the SVGCC? Please let us not continue down this road, as in doing so, we are risking the educational prospects of some of our young people, making them virtual sacrifices on the altar of political gamesmanship.

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