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Third phase of buildings opened at SVGCC

Third phase of buildings opened at SVGCC

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Funded by the European Union and the Government of St Vincent and the Greandines, the third phase of buildings at the SVG Community College were officially opened earlier this week.

At a ceremony held at the institution’s Villa Campus, government officials, teachers,{{more}} representatives from the EU and various other stakeholders gathered to mark the occasion on Tuesday, October 28.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who delivered the keynote address, described the new buildings as “beautiful” and pointed out that the entire campus is “hardly recognizable” from what it was when first established in 1996.

“This certainly gives lie to those who would want us to believe that since independence there is nothing to celebrate,” he stated.

The Prime Minister said that this expansion project, which was funded under the 9th EDF Project, is part of his administration’s ‘Education Revolution’ – which he is very much committed to.

“Even in the midst of global economic meltdown, even when we experience serious natural disasters, we have maintained our expenditure on education,” he asserted. “We have ensured that our teachers are well compensated, that they are trained, and that our students are well taken care of.”

At a cost in excess of $30 million, the third phase of the expansion project comprises a Lecture Theatre Building, Students’ Union Building, Teachers’ Building, two hard courts, uncovered seating area, and a host of renovations to the existing buildings from phases one and two.

Minister of Education Girlyn Miguel, in her remarks, extolled the benefits of post-secondary education to a country’s overall development, and explained that the expansion project was necessary to cope with the increase in the number and diversity of the courses offered at the SVGCC.

She said: “Post-secondary education is a necessity. The St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College is growing in leaps and bounds… we must continue to strive for academic excellence.”

Also delivering remarks was Ambassador Mikael Barfod, head of the delegation of the EU to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.

He explained that having been established in 1976, the delegation has a been a partner in development in the sub-region for the full life of SVG as an independent nation – translating to approximately $703 million being spent within the Eastern Caribbean and Barbados.

Barfod also said that the EU has invested $137 million into the local education sector over that time period.

“Our support has shifted from the usual mix of scholarships, school feeding programmes and skills development initiatives to a more holistic approach designed to improve access and quality… and enhance competitiveness through human capacity development,” he said.

Barfod also added that the SVGCC plays an important role in helping to reduce unemployment – especially in youths – by providing them with the facilities, tools and skills for a “modern workforce.”

In her remarks, acting director of the SVGCC Laura Browne said that with post-secondary education no longer being a pursuit just for those in the “higher socio-economic brackets,” the focus today is on the market value of higher education.

“With the ongoing implementation of the Caribbean Single Market Economy… this country was forced to expand its capacity to produce persons with the cognitive skills, competencies and aptitudes to compete in the labour market,” she pointed out.

The Prime Minister reinforced the sentiment, adding that under his administration’s governance, there have been more scholarships, bursaries, national exhibitions and grants for higher education than any other period in the history of SVG.

In addition to this, there are also various student loan programmes that ensure that those from all economic backgrounds have the opportunity to attend university.

“Don’t think that because you come from a poor family that you can’t go to university,” he insisted. “All you must have is your motivation!”

Chief design architect Moulton Mayers said that the Villa Campus is “second to none” in the region – in terms of design and facilities – and that it has been the biggest project that he has undertaken in his career.

“Our robust education revolution is alive and well, and bearing fruit,” he said.

The SVGCC was established in 1996 with approximately 250 students housed in four classrooms. Currently, there are 2,256 students enrolled in all four divisions that fall under the umbrella of the institution.(JSV)

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