A seven member delegation headed by Dr. Gale T.C. Rigobert, Minister of Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development, continued to explore scholarship and academic exchange opportunities for locals during an eleven day visit to Universities and Colleges across Florida, it has been disclosed.
According to a post on Rigobert’s official Facebook page, the visit took place over the period October 1 to October 11, 2019.
“The team from Saint Lucia met with several Presidents, Provosts, Deans and other Senior Faculty members of Universities and Colleges facilitated by the Consulate General of Saint Lucia in Miami,” the post stated.
It noted that the visit came after the recent visit to Lucerne University in September by Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, overseas engagements with learning institutions by the Minister for Education in Switzerland, Canada and the USA.
The objectives of the tour by Rigobert and her team were listed as follows:
• To negotiate scholarship opportunities for Saint Lucian nationals;
• To discuss the customisation of programmes and curricula to meet the national and professional development needs of Saint Lucia;
• To formalise Memoranda of Understanding and Articulation Agreements with select universities (To secure transfer opportunities for students of SALCC, affording them an expedited path to securing a bachelor’s degree; to establish opportunities for professional academic exchange opportunities for students and educators alike); and
• To observethe outfitting and layout of facilities in areas such as science, innovation, hospitality and culinary arts and technology laboratories, with the intention of modelling and implementing best practices to enhance our school facilities.
Fifteen (15) institutions were selected strategically to facilitate the fulfillment of Saint Lucia’s human development objectives and carve out opportunities for professional development in areas highlighted in the National Priority list. The special areas of emphasis include Sports, Technical and Vocational Training and Education (TVET), Multi-media, animation and robotics, in an effort to create pathways forupscaling and retooling nationals through professional development programmes.
The institutions engaged included:
1. University of Tampa
2. University of South Florida
3. Saint Leo University
4. Florida Polytechnic University
5. University of Central Florida
6. Valencia College
7. Rosen College of Hospitality Management
8. University of Florida
9. Bethune-Cookman University
10. Fayetteville State University (North Carolina)
11. Florida International University
12. Johnson and Wales University
13. Miami International University of Arts and Design
14. Nova Southeastern University
15. Miami Dade College
The Minister of Education disclosed that the meetings and engagements undertaken were very rewarding.
Rigobert said the team secured the commitment of some universities to formalise articulation agreements and to provide full and partial scholarships for Saint Lucian nationals.
According to the Minister responsible for Education, there is much goodwill towards Saint Lucia, and there is considerable appetite for collaboration from the institutions’ personnel.
She asserted that this was evident in expressions of interest in the following areas:
• Conducting research into the sargassum seaweed that has plagued the east coast over the past years with the aim of commercialising possible by-products;
• Assessing programmes of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College in pursuit of course recognition and exemption in order to facilitate transfer opportunities for students to Universities and Colleges;
• Visiting Saint Lucia to scout and recruit potential athletes for the award of sports scholarships and opportunities to further their tertiary education and sporting careers;
• Training for public officers in areas such as leadership, emergency crisis management and innovation, , upskilling and retooling educators including school counsellors;
• Establishing academic and professional exchanges between universities and the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (and other learning institutions in Saint Lucia) and;
• Collaborating in the area of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) to:
o develop professional skills and capacity of trainers;
o revamp the curriculum to meet the needs of the ever changing labour market; and
o enhance the portability for TVET qualifications and improve employability opportunities for ‘tech-voc’ graduates.
The delegation met and engaged several Saint Lucians studying in Florida who provided invaluable feedback on their experiences, it was explained.
The Facebook post said the Minister continued her efforts to advocate for better conditions for Saint Lucian students abroad, including advocating for more favourable consideration to be given to students for on-campus jobs to assist with their financial obligations while attending school.
It observed that the Consulate General of Saint Lucia in Miami will continue to follow up on agreed actions with the institutions, and has committed to facilitating engagements with Universities and Colleges from other states including Texas and Atlanta.
“Similar tours are expected to be undertaken through the Embassy of Saint Lucia in Washington as well as the Consulate General of Saint Lucia in New York,” it was noted.