Monday, December 01, 2003 - Close to six hundred students graduated from
the island’s premier tertiary level institution - the Sir Arthur Lewis Community
College (SALCC) - amidst calls for the college to undertake long discussed
reforms and organizational restructuring. Minister for Education, Human Resource
Development, Youth and Sports Honourable Mario Michel, said such a move would
enable the SALCC to be internationally competitive and more responsive to the
human resource development needs of the country.
Addressing the Sunday November 31, 2003 Graduation Ceremony, he said efforts
towards making the college more self-sufficient were also reaping dividends,
with figures indicating a reduced dependency on government’s annual subvention
which accounted for 100% of revenue generated in 1997, to 89% in 2003.
Additional changes are to come via an organizational change process, designed to
bring the six divisions of the college together in a seamless-whole, thereby
allowing students the option of taking college-wide courses.
“Another key in meeting the expansion needs of the future of the college
involves the use of communication and information technology, coupled with the
establishment of strategic alliances with recognized universities around the
world,” the minister said. “At the instigation of the OECS Heads of Government,
the World Bank has established a project called the Caribbean Knowledge Network,
that seeks to provide all the tertiary level institutions in the region, with
distance learning infrastructure that can be used to significantly increase
access to higher education,” the Minister announced. Under that programme, each
OECS college will be provided with equipment, satellite access and trained
personnel in the maintenance and operation of the facility. The project -
expected to come on stream in 2004 - will allow the SALCC to offer courses
island-wide without costly investment in new infrastructure.
The 2003 graduating class which numbered 578, including visually impaired
student Jessica Jacobie, was addressed by Director General of the OECS
Secretariat Dr. Len Ishmael. She spoke of the new and dynamic era facing
students and encouraged them to seize the many opportunities available.
According to the St. Lucian born and first female to hold the post of Director
General of the august body, “this is no longer the age of Aquarius, but the age
of information and technology, rationality, efficiency and competitiveness. A
wealth of information is at your fingertips. The opportunity to study in diverse
fields is extraordinary. International forces in the 1990’s have contributed to
the process of downsizing government and creating the opportunity for greater
private sector involvement in this process which we call development.”
College officials for their part, said efforts would continue towards seeing the
SALCC develop as a focal point for teaching excellence, professional
development, applied research and innovation.