Posted on

Vincentian education numbers at all-time high

Vincentian education  numbers at all-time high


St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) now resides atop the list of non campus nations which populate the various regional campuses of the University of the West Indies (UWI).{{more}}

This revelation was made by Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves at the launch of the UWI Open Campus Development project last Thursday.

In an address to mark the occasion, the Prime Minister celebrated the thrust towards education by Vincentians, which is seen in the Government’s initiative to have “one university graduate in every household by 2025,” as well as the overall improvement of UWI’s facilities via the development programme.

According to Gonsalves, SVG had 333 students at the main UWI campuses for the 2013-14 academic year, with an expected increase for the 2014-15 academic year. The Bahamas had 308, with 272 from St Lucia, 163 from Guyana; Antigua numbered 162, Belize, 158 and Grenada numbered 151 students.

He said there are an estimated 3,500 students involved in post secondary education in the state: 407 students currently attend the Open Campus in Kingstown, with 2,442 at the St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College (SVGCC) and various others engaged in other programmes. In seeking to create a relationship that would see the Community College become a college of the University, the Prime Minister expressed his concern about cross cooperation between the regional body and SVG as a member state. He further stated that the university must “step up to the plate” asserting that “we have to have a certain flexibility….”

Gonsalves also emphasized the need for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) training at the Open Campus, pointing to gender disparities in all courses. STEM fields were cited as more balanced alternatives to the humanities and other traditional Open Campus areas in terms of gender distribution. He challenged those present to embrace the challenge, in the face of falling enrolment rates regionally.

In relation to the proposed improvements to the local UWI Open Campus, Gonsalves, a former UWI student and lecturer, joined other speakers in optimism. These included Richard Hanley, High Commissioner of Canada for Barbados and the OECS; Dr Luz Longsworth, pro vice-chancellor and principal of UWI Open Campus; Michelle Cross-Fenty, director of Projects, Caribbean Development Bank and Deborah Dalrymple, head of UWI Open Campus, St Vincent. The officials said they believe the venture will create a more competitive Caribbean workforce in an era of global reach.(JB)