Call made for greater collaboration among education and research institutes in the region

Minister of Education, Sen. the Hon. Nigel Carty (photo by Willet’s Photo)

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, APRIL 14TH 2010 (CUOPM) – St. Kitts and Nevis Minister of Education, Sen. the Hon. Nigel Carty is among in Paramaribo, Suriname, attending the Caribbean Conference on Higher Education (CCHE).

During the two-day conference policy makers, educators, and experts, will discuss the current situation of higher education in the Caribbean. The meeting is a joint-initiative of the Government of Suriname, the Department of Human Development, Education, and Culture (DHDEC) of the Organization of American States (OAS), the UNESCO International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (IESALC), and the UNESCO Kingston Cluster Office for the Caribbean.

The Meeting which began on Sunday opened with a call from Suriname President, His Excellency, Ronald Venetiaan, for greater collaboration among education and research institutes in the Caribbean.

At the official opening of the conference in hotel Krasnapolsky, the Head of State argued that the small scale of the Caribbean communities is leading to a lack of financial resources and expertise for education and research in different disciplines, as well as insufficient services being rendered to society by the region’s academic institutions.

“The solutions for many of these problems lies in good collaboration, which will put an end to clinging to the orientation towards the objectives and structures of institutions of our former colonizers, as well as the persistent individual orientation of many of our experts towards a possibility of success in institutions outside the Caribbean,” the President noted.

Collaborative efforts have so far proven unsustainable and there is an urgent need to reverse this, following not only the dictates of external institutions such as the European Union or other donor organizations, but preferably on the basis of “our own Caribbean initiatives for our own institutions of higher education.”

Director of the OAS’ Department of Human Development, Education, and Culture (DHDEC), Mrs. Maria Levens, noted that while the Caribbean has “worthwhile experiences to share,” the region’s participation in larger regional hemispheric conferences and other policy meetings is minimal.

Therefore the CCHE provides an opportunity to find out why internalization or cross-border education could be an advantage and a challenge. The meeting is also a venue she said to determine “how much solidarity there is from strong universities towards institutions which might need some help while they are bringing up their standards.”

Mrs. Levens urged participants to make a commitment to a special project and identify which countries might provide capacity strengthening to others.

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