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Eustace: Bill too crucial to rush through

Eustace: Bill too crucial to rush through


The Opposition is not sure that there are enough persons in St Vincent and the Grenadines who are capable of properly evaluating and accrediting higher learning programmes.

Opposition Leader, Arhnim Eustace, at a press conference last Wednesday, called for the establishment of an OECS accreditation board instead of the local entity proposed in the Further and Higher Education (Accreditation) Bill 2006 that he said Government had planned to rush through Parliament that same day, prompting a boycott by the Opposition.{{more}}

“We don’t have many people in St Vincent and the Grenadines outside possibly the education sector who have all that is necessary for that type of evaluation,” Eustace said.

Eustace told journalists that he believed that the rush was to accommodate a medical school that wants to open doors in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“We had some significant concerns about this bill,” Eustace said, adding that he did inform the Prime Minister accordingly.

The New Democratic Party (NDP) was of the view that the bill was too crucial to the future of the education system in St Vincent and the Grenadines to be rushed through Parliament and it should have gone to a select committee.

He questioned why the University of the West Indies or the Caribbean Examination Council were excluded from the board.

Eustace said that the bill should have been given the same attention as the Value Added Tax bill because it is equally or even more important.

According to the bill, which was passed in Parliament as the Opposition was holding its news conference and boycotting the sitting, the National Accreditation Board will have representation from the Medical and Bar associations. Teachers, Engineers and Architects associations are also to have representation on the board.

Eustace said that that some of the groups represented on the Board are not even functioning or if they are functioning are of little significance to the educational system.

NPD’s vice president, Senator St Claire Leacock said that by boycotting parliament his party is sending a warning to all investors and others who benefit from these bills that are rushed through Parliament that the NDP reserved the right to revisit these laws whenever they assume power.

Meantime in Parliament Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves called the boycott a “dragon dance”.

He said the reason why the legislation was being rushed through the House of Assembly was because the National Investment Promotion Inc (NIPI) and others were at an advanced stage of negotiations with investors for the construction of a medical school and the bill was therefore urgently needed.

He said that not all of the bill needed to be passed and if the Opposition wanted, certain sections could be operationalised and the other parts referred for consultation.