Despite the challenges faced by the region, leaders in education must still help to move the Caribbean forward.
This was a key message sent to those in leadership positions in higher education, at the opening recently of the Association of Caribbean Tertiary Institution’s (ACTI) professional development retreat, at Courtyard by Marriott.
Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ronald Jones, while outlining some of the challenges, also shared how these could be overcome.
He said: “All educational institutions want to do better and want to see their students achieving…. We have to manage scarce resources in every institution. We have to convert what we have been doing over time into something useful; we have to reach our students in the cheapest way possible. We have to collaborate; we cannot waste resources; we have to maximise and the greatest efficiency must emerge from what we do.”
Mr. Jones further noted that amidst everything, including changing technology, leaders still had to educate and transform people.
“We are living in times of austerity…and we will have to go forward with new systems, processes, [and] methodologies to achieve whatever you want to achieve,” he stressed.
Pro-Vice Chancellor and Principal of The University of the West Indies Open Campus, Dr. Luz Longsworth, echoed similar sentiments as she congratulated ACTI on launching the three-day event.
She said: “No matter how big or how small your institution is, I am sure that we can all agree that these are very trying and testing times for anyone who works in tertiary or higher education.
“We seem to be constantly transforming ourselves. We are faced with aligning to new financial realities, new governance models for the benefit of our students, our people and our countries…”
While noting there were multiple demands on academic leaders as well, Dr. Longsworth acknowledged this was not only constrained to the Caribbean but was “a global phenomenon”.
However, she said a key success factor had to be the ability to pool resources so the region could move forward and develop higher education together.
ACTI was established some 29 years ago. With its secretariat located in the Alistair McIntyre Building at UWI, Cave Hill Campus, it serves as the network and advocate for the advancement of tertiary education and provides technical support to its members.