The Government of a country relies on a number of statutory bodies to deliver its services. They are established by government legislation to carry out a particular function.
A statutory body should only be set up if it is the most appropriate and cost-effective means of carrying out its given function. It is necessary to review statutory bodies to determine their openness, transparency and effectiveness.
T.A. Marryshow Community College was established as a public tertiary educational institution by Act No. 41 of 1996. Currently this institution is facing a number of challenges in meeting its statutory function of delivering quality tertiary education in Grenada.
For example, there is no organised body to promote and protect the interests of the lecturers. The Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT) as a representative body for teachers in Grenada, appears not to have the capability to adequately address the issues confronting lecturers at TAMCC.
The rights of lecturers in terms of working hours, working environments, and retroactive payments have been dealt with in a demeaning and unprofessional manner. Such rights are the subject of great controversy.
To date, the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Finance and the GUT have not demonstrated a favourable opinion on the welfare of TAMCC lecturers. Should lecturers be made scapegoats for alleged administrative problems at TAMCC?
All lecturers at TAMCC have at least graduate and/or post graduate qualifications and training. Every graduation ceremony in excess of 500 students graduate with associate’s degrees in various disciplines.
Many students perform excellent in natural sciences, social sciences, business studies, arts and technology, humanities, and hospitality. TAMCC’s graduates fill jobs throughout Grenada, and Universities in many parts of the world.
Whereas in some Caribbean countries there are 15 students to a major subject area, in TAMCC there are between 35-50 students in many major subject areas. Lecturers have to prepare lectures, lecture, do course assessments, prepare final and make-up exams, invigilate exams, mark scripts, register and advise students, attend departmental meetings and development workshops. Assessment of students work including SBAs require extensive effort including weekends and holidays.
Unfortunately, the work ethic of lecturers appears not to be a popular explanation for such success among certain sections of the public and the ‘powers that be’. There is an erroneous view that lecturers are over-compensated for their hard work, under challenging circumstances.
The great Frederick Douglas said that ‘men may not get all they pay for in this world, but they MUST pay for all they get’. For example, there will be no retroactive payments for lecturers without a struggle. As he rightly noted ‘power concedes nothing without a demand, it never did and never will’.
There is a need to review the statutory function of TAMCC. As a community college, it should be focusing mainly on developing and delivering specialised degree programmes. However, it is politically mandated to deliver the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE), which should be done at form six in secondary schools. This situation must be address in order to reduce and/or eliminate this perceived financial burden of TAMCC on the Government.
TAMCC’s attempt to meet its financial obligations by raising fees met strong resistance. When tertiary academic education is offered so cheaply, does it not influence the status of the ones delivering it? Look at the fees of lawyers, doctors, engineers, bankers, and others. TAMCC lecturers are the lowest paid in the OECS. May be they earn their degrees ‘under cocoa trees’ and not Universities.
Yet there are those who are moaning about the salaries of TAMCC lecturers. The fact is that some people in Grenada do not respect academic qualification. They seem to have a problem with intellectuals, especially those coming from a disadvantaged background.
Human beings are learning machines and when given the right opportunity they can master any academic skill. So allow all intellectuals to make their meaningful contribution to national development. Those who have problems with their salaries check with your employers, and not what others earn. Just be sure you are highly qualified and productive too.
A country that does not recognize earned academic qualifications experiences high ‘brain drain’. Do the right thing and respect those productive lecturers who choose to remain here in the interest of the sustainable development of their country.
It is time that ALL TAMCC Lecturers pull themselves together into a viable Lecturers’ Association. This is the only means by which you will be able to empower yourselves to deal effectively with such unjust situation.
What does it matter how much you do, when what you are doing is not what matters most. As the late Bob Marley sang, ‘get up, get up, stand up for your rights’.
Good Luck in your efforts.