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Is it a misunderstanding or a boldfaced attempt to mislead?

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Here we go again.

There is either a fundamental misunderstanding in some quarters about the difference between accreditation and recognition of academic programmes or a boldfaced attempt by some to mislead and confuse the young people of this country and their parents.

How often does the country have to go through this exercise? How often do the officials at the St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College (SVGCC) and the Ministry of Education have to explain the situation?{{more}} How often do they have to say no, the home-grown associate degrees at the College are not accredited, but while the programmes go through the accreditation process, they are recognized by several universities around the world and dozens of holders of associate degrees from the SVGCC have been accepted into and received advanced placement at those institutions?

Why is what they have been saying so difficult to understand? Will we be doing this every September, at the beginning of each academic year?

If, as the Leader of the Opposition has said, he found out for the first time earlier this week that none of the associate degree programmes at the SVGCC are accredited, he was not listening last year when officials from the college and others were speaking.

We are not here downplaying the importance of accreditation, as everyone would like to know that their academic degree has value, prestige and portability. However, accreditation cannot be conferred on an institution overnight, and having only recently been established, the SVGCC still has some years to go and work to do before it can claim this coveted status. In the meantime, our community college, the baby of the community colleges in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) is making tertiary level education more accessible and affordable to a wide cross section of Vincentians at various stages along life’s journey.

While accreditation is pending, students of the SVGCC must be assured that the education they are receiving is of high quality, at internationally accepted standards and is capable of accelerating their upward movement in the workplace and affording them entry to higher-level institutions around the world.

Therefore, 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 after the answers have been given and evidence provided to support the institution’s claims, why then still this insistence by some that the degrees are worthless?

Listening to the debate, we wonder how much of the discussion has to do with specific students who are holders of associate degrees from the SVGCC who could not gain entry into academic institutions overseas. The question must be asked: were they denied entry because of the non-accreditation of the college that awarded the degree or was it because of their grade point average?

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 the SVGCC may use those qualifications to gain entry into the degree programmes of the UWI. They have also said that it 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.

This policy is clear and was articulated by the UWI, not the SVGCC.

We as adults, especially those of us who have already had the benefit of advanced university education need to stop confusing our young people as they try to develop themselves. Please, let’s stop the politicizing of the education of our people.

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