Referring to the tendency to bemoan the perceived shortcomings of Education in the Region, Ms Owen stated her conviction that if significant headway is to be made in the future, a shift in focus must take place from the Region’s challenges to its successes, resources and opportunities.
The Head of University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Open Campus in St. Kitts and Nevis explained that Caribbean people have advanced and achieved qualifications as a result of the financial and other support of the Regional governments as well as their commitment to providing access for all. She referred specifically to the successes of examining bodies such as CXC and CAPE in offering Certificates, Bachelors, Masters, and PHD degrees.
Not discounting previously identified causes of the Region’s Educational challenges, Ms Owen said she posited a new solution which involves making the Region’s students more aware of the opportunities available to them for Post Secondary Education if they are to achieve their fullest potential.
Specifically, the Region’s tertiary level institutions were highlighted for their differing areas of specialization including Agriculture, Information Technology, Health and Natural Sciences as well as Social Sciences and Education.
The University of the West Indies’ Open Campus was launched in direct response to requests from the OECS and other non-campus territories to be better served by the top regional education institution. Ms Owen emphasized the need for firm commitment by leaders to promote this resource that allows students to remain in their home country while pursuing studies of their choice.
The educator advised that there is a UWI team of individuals within each of the OECS countries that are dedicated to working with local stakeholders to provide a service to the people of the country.
Additionally she revealed that the Open Campus provides in-house and on-site professional development for the public and private sector, academic counselling services for students; as well as facilitation of information sessions for secondary school staff and students.
The actual meetings of the 22nd Meeting of Ministers of Education of the OECS takes place May 23-24, 2012 at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort.