The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has accused the Keith Mitchell government in the Botanical Gardens of dragging its feet with the building of a University of West Indies (UWI) Campus at Hope in St. Andrew.
After several years of dialogue, in July 2012, the NDC government of then Prime Minister Tillman Thomas awarded the university with approximately 89 acres of land towards the expansion of its campuses, with the vision of enhancing the level of tertiary education offered on the island.
Under the deal worked out, the University was responsible for the buildings and Grenada for making the lands available.
Speaking at last week’s NDC weekly press conference, former Education Minister, Franka Alexis-Bernardine expressed disappointment with the current government on its handling of the issue.
Noting that “tertiary education lifts the level of a country to a new height of accomplishment,” Sen. Bernardine told reporters last week that the Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) administration, which took office in February 2013 has not seemingly embraced the project.
“The fact that we are not facilitating tertiary education as we should, is of great concern to the NDC,” she said, adding, that “the talk around is that because it is an NDC project, that it has not been pursued.”
“It is a huge disappointment to see that land was provided for the University of the West Indies to be able to build its campus… and to date the grass has not been cut (when) the land was awarded giving the school free range to pursue its request to the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) (and other donor agencies) to put down the buildings”, she remarked.
The former Education Minister noted that it is important that other regional islands like “St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines have since moved ahead and completed their campuses (but) Grenada has not lifted a stone off the ground and is still using Marryshow House in a very limited capacity.”
“We cannot manage in this Caribbean at this stage, without trying to empower our children with tertiary education,” she said, adding that this was necessary to “carry us through the information stage of development”.
Sen. Bernardine stressed that because of the ever enhancing information technological age “all Grenadian children should be provided with the technical and computer skills to be able to carry us through this stage of our development.”
“And that’s why it is extremely disappointing that at this stage (of development), putting into place a regional tertiary institution like the University of West Indies is still without the thrust that it requires and we are still out here scrambling for scholarships all over the world,” she said.
“Having broken ground we should have had a campus there by now…it is rather unfortunate that the (NNP) government has not seen a way to work with that thrust to get the tertiary institution going because we must be able to compete effectively with our Caribbean brothers and sisters”, she added.
Sen. Bernadine stressed that the provision of enhanced “tertiary education would be a major thrust of an NDC government,” which she said will also seek “to give opportunities to all; the mothers who missed out on it, the young men who dropped out, those who are still in school but not getting what they want to”.
“The whole education process as we see it and as is emerging must offer opportunities not only to children in schools (but also) for the retooling of adults…whatever the opportunity is, to empower the mind we must have it available in our system,” she added.