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SVG Community College empowering youth to excel

SVG Community College empowering youth to excel

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The Division of Arts, Science and General Studies at the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College is operating beyond its capacity and the situation is becoming a nightmare, the Dean of the Division, Kelvin Malcolm, has said.{{more}}

Malcolm said that stricter adherence to the school’s entry requirements is now needed if the situation is to be reigned in.

This as 368 proud students crossed the finish line of this stage of their educational race at the 12th annual graduation and prize giving ceremony that was held on Friday, June 27, at the St George’s Cathedral, under the theme “Empowering Our Youth To Excel.”

Malcolm said that the resources of the institution are “stretched to breaking point” at the current 900-1000 annual student enrollment rate. According to him, because this year will see the first batch of the ‘universal secondary education policy’ students graduating, the problem threatens to get worst.

The government instituted the universal secondary education policy in 2003.

Besides the situation of stretched resources, Malcolm said the problem of students who are misfits at the institution is also a cause for concern.

He said that some students who should not be at the institution, whose passes at the CSEC level do not mesh with the programmes offered, even though they meet the basic entry requirement of five CSEC passes, are accepted after interference by well-placed persons in society and politicians.

“…We get calls, I or the director, from maybe persons who have sufficiently high profile in society, are executive members of state boards, constituency representatives…sometimes Ministry of Education officials…but a situation like that is never in the best interest of the individual student or for the institution,” Malcolm said.

“Too many students come to us for the wrong reasons; too many immediately upon entry realize that they do not belong here. Those are the students that struggle to cope with the demands of the work. Some eventually drop out…become problematic, and at the end of two years leave the worse off,” Malcolm added.

During her address, Director of the Community College, Dr Veronica Marks, encouraged graduates to challenge themselves academically and advised them not to settle with what they have achieved so far.

“This is only the first chapter in your pursuit of higher education. You must now move on to take your dreams higher and ensure that they are realized,” she said.

She also highlighted the strides being made by the institution in the area of program development.

“For the next academic year, 2008/2009, the division of arts, science and general studies will offer for the first time level one or first year University courses in the Social Sciences,” she explained.

This opportunity allows students to complete the first year of degree programmes, majoring in Accounting, Economics and Management of business here before going off to the various UWI campuses to complete their studies.

The institution is also developing courses for their associate degree program, which will come on stream soon, Dr Marks said.

Dr Marks also used the opportunity to voice concerns about the state of science education in the institution and the nation’s educational system on a whole.

She chided the Ministry of Education for what she perceived to be a lack of proper management of the transfer of science teachers from the institution.

She accused the education ministry of “playing

hop-scotch with science education.”

Dr Marks also noted that students are entering the College under prepared, lacking the necessary analytical and comprehension skills to do the work demanded of them at that level.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves agreed that the situation with science education has to be addressed.

He said that while immediate measures must be put in place to deal with the shortage of science teachers and to properly prepare the students, the problem must be addressed from the root.

He said that a love for natural sciences has to be inculcated into the primary school children.

He noted government’s plan to offer special mathematics and sciences scholarships to students who may not have finished in the top ten to get one of the six national scholarship awards or the four exhibition awards, but have done sufficiently well, and are identified by the Ministry of Education.

He also said that government was willing to pay “a premium price for persons who are excellent teachers in mathematics, in physics, in chemistry, in biology and the range of natural science subjects.”

The well-attended graduation ceremony which was filled with beautiful singing and pan playing, and featured an inspiring feature address by Dr Julian Ferdinand, saw several students receiving awards.

Leading the list was Student of the Year Jason Haynes. He also won four individual subject awards.

In addition to individual sporting disciple awards in cricket and table tennis, Shayne Alexander was named Sports personality of the year.

Jonothan Roberts took the prize for outstanding performance in Culture and Drama, and the six national Scholars from last year were also recognized.

The Prime Minister’s daughter, Isis Gonsalves, who was among the graduates, was recognized for winning the UWI Scholarship Award for 2008.

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