Canadian Governor General,??David Johnston, addressing the panel discussion at the Barbados Community College. (G. Brewster/BGIS)??

Barbados and Canada have much to be proud of with respect to their bilateral arrangements.

Canadian Governor General, His Excellency David Johnston, stressed this on the last day of his visit to the island, while delivering the keynote??address at the start of a panel discussion, at the Barbados Community College(BCC), titled: The Contribution of Community Colleges To Employability and Economic Prosperity.

Acknowledging that he had been fortunate to visit Barbados three times in his former capacity as principal of McGill University, which operates the Bellairs Research Institute in Holetown, His Excellency said: "The people of our two nations enjoy positive relations in many respects, including, not least, higher education and training.

"We enjoy a true learning exchange, in which Barbadian students and professors collaborate with Canadian universities and colleges through scholarships and exchange programs, and Canadian students and researchers come to Barbados for an experience unlike any in Canada."

Among the programmes he listed in the successful partnership between Barbadian institutions and Canadian universities were the Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program, the Canadian CARICOM Virtual University Scholarship Program, and the International Council for Canadian Studies.

His Excellency disclosed that the Canadian International Development Agency’s (CIDA) launch of a $20 million, five-year initiative called the CARICOM Education for Employment Program, which was aimed at building skills for employment in 12 countries across the Caribbean, would also benefit Barbados.

Further explaining the rationale behind the initiative, he added: "This program, along with other existing Canadian scholarship programs, will enhance the skills sets of people in the Caribbean, help to address regional labour shortages, and strengthen the links between post-secondary institutions here and in Canada.

"I understand that students at [the] Barbados Community College are taking advantage of these and other Canadian scholarships, and I am delighted to see these opportunities being pursued and new ties with Canadian schools being formed."

The Canadian GG, who was on a working visit here from April 29 to 30, affirmed that strong and long-standing ties of learning existed between the two countries and emphasised that Canadian scholarships had "opened the door for many Barbadians to higher education over the past few decades, and graduates of Canadian schools are now working in many professions across the Caribbean".

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Board of the BCC, Stephen Broome, in supporting the GG’s assertions said, the College at "Eyrie" Howells Cross Road, St. Michael currently had 14 Memoranda of Understanding with Canadian institutions. He pointed out that in the academic year 2010-2011, nine BCC final year students had travelled to Canada, at the start of the 2010 Fall semester, as scholarship awardees of the Emerging Leaders of the Americas Programme and the Canada-CARICOM scholarship programme offered by the Canadian Bureau for International Education. Seven students, he said, had continued their studies at Lambton College of Arts and Technology, for a period of two semesters, one student studied at Winnipeg, while another went on to St. Lawrence College in Ontario.

While adding that the figure doubled in the academic year 2011-2012, to 18 final year students, he said other places of study included Lakeland College in Alberta and Canadore College in Ontario.

Mr. Broome pledged the BCC’s continued support of the various initiatives by the Canadian Government and said the College looked forward "to working with the Association of Canadian Community Colleges and other local partners in providing opportunities for our students, thus strengthening the capacity of our students in technical and vocational skills so that they can respond to our labour market needs with much more effectiveness".


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