The Critchlow Labour College, which closed its doors last year after facing severe financial problems, is set to open its doors again this month, even as Thursday’s “re-opening” ceremony saw a no-show from Government officials.
Minister of Education, Shaik Baksh, was listed to speak at the ceremony but the college’s new management reportedly received correspondence at the last moment that he was unable to attend.
The college closed its doors last year, leaving scores of students and workers who used the facilities, in limbo.
Government had withdrawn its subvention from the college, calling for a revamping of the system and more accountability.
The college immediately ran into more difficulties and with falling income from the students, closed its doors. Shortly before that, its Principal, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine, resigned.
On Thursday, new Principal of the college, Ivor English, disclosed that classes are expected to restart this month. He outlined plans to increase classes, rent part of the facilities and raise fees to make the college self-sufficient.
Speaking to several former students and labour officials closely affiliated with the college, English noted that the “re-opening” of the college was deliberately taking place in the midst of Critchlow Week.
He argued that the institution had a glorious history which over the years created an avenue of quality education for workers to enhance their skills.
With the college being more than 40 years old, English, who was a student of the institution more than 30 years ago, recalled the “bitter struggles” to have the certificates issued by the college recognised.
In the 1980s, the college was acknowledged as the busiest labour institution in the Caribbean. Speaking specifically of the plans to make the college profitable, the Principal said that the rental of some spaces to other education bodies will include maritime, nursing and human resource development.
The new management of the college which includes Registrar Ramon Gaskin and Dr. Aubrey Gill, is hoping that the facilities will earn as much as $5.4M in rent.
Additionally, businesses will be approached to sponsor projects and programmes to be offered and there will be fund-raising activities.
Organisations will also be targeted to provide special training programmes. Businesses will be approached to possibly sponsor individual classrooms to meet maintenance costs.
The Principal did not rule out a fee increase with $75,000 being mooted for the one-year Industrial and Social Studies Programme.
The government will also be approached to re-introduce the subvention, with the college accounts available for scrutiny.
Additionally, an independent Executive Board of Directors will be established by the college.
According to English, the college will not be tolerating interference from political entities, trade unions or other influences.
The main courses will see second examiners being introduced.
English also tapped the strategic location of the college as a major plus.
However, the Principal acknowledged that there is an obvious need for collaboration with overseas based institutions.
“This would essentially, require a careful exploration of the possibilities for local as well as international accreditations by established and credible educational institutions.”
Meanwhile, it was also disclosed on Thursday, that an ambitious number of courses will be offered for Legal, Municipal, Secretarial and Court Clerks Certification, with Dr. Aubrey Gill co-ordinating those classes which he says will raise the bar in these professions.
The Georgetown Reading and Research Centre also made a donation of over 700 textbooks to kick-start the library facilities at the college.
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