..as Dr Green defends entity’s track record
By Gary Eleazar
The 20th meeting of the CARICOM Council for Human and Social Development came to a close, yesterday, with all and sundry high with hopes that the agenda was adequately addressed and that the deliberations will yield promising results.
Among those in attendance were Ronald Jones, Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Barbados; Shaik Baksh, Minister of Education, Guyana; Nigel A. Carty, Minister of Education and Information, St Kitts and Nevis; Arsene James, Minister of Education and Culture, Saint Lucia; Raymond. Sapoen, Minister of Education and Community Development, Suriname and their delegations; and Manorma Soeknandan, Ambassador, Republic of Suriname to Guyana, Jamaica, and CARICOM
Belize, Dominica, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago were also represented.
International and regional institutions on education and development partners were also represented.
Speaking to the perception that the COHSOD has over the years degenerated into a series of “talk shops” Assistant Secretary General and Director of the Human and Social Development Unit articulately defended the entity’s track record.
Dr Green pointed out that at present there are only two outstanding issues over the past decade as it relates to the mandate of COHSOD.
He said that a recent audit of COHSOD as it relates to activities over 85 per cent has been completed.
These mandates he said have been handed to COHSOD by CARICOM Heads of Government.
He spoke of some of the activities such, as the establishment of the Caribbean Public Health Agency which when ratified will be a signal tribute to the region. This is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
He said that what people address their minds to, is the failure of the region to get to the Single Market and Economy which in itself is a problem.
He spoke to the fact that even in the European Community which for almost half of a century still has not been able to consolidate an economy.
He said that what the Caribbean has done was to set high standards as it relates to the CSME but what persons fail to realize was the successes of functional cooperation that has been achieved by COHSOD and entities such as the CXC and universities.
He said that in the areas of functional cooperation CARICOM is the first to eliminate polio, which was as a result of the functional cooperation.
Dr Green spoke, too, of the establishment of PANCAP, several youth development programmes among other initiatives established.
Chairperson of the 20th COHSOD Minister of Education Shaik Baksh following the closing briefed media operatives of what transpired over the past three days.
“Overall the outcome of this COHSOD was a productive one…we have dealt with a wide range of issues.”
He said that emanating from the discussion on the regional tertiary education system there was an agreement to establish a technical working group to provide an action plan for achieving a regional tertiary education council.
Baksh said that it was found to be necessary to establish such a council to bring harmony to what is being done in the region as it relates to tertiary education.
That group will have to report to Baksh by April next year.
The status of the regional accreditation body was also addressed according to Baksh, which he said has been on the books for some time now.
“It was decided that a briefing paper would be prepared for member states so that we could move forward,” adding that it will have to engage the attention of the Cabinets of the various member states, “so that we can bring them on board.”
In the communiqué that was eventually adopted by the 20th COHSOD it was stated that there was an agreement that the Summary Results of the Study on Gender Differentials in Education be disseminated to a wide cross section of stakeholders.
The Technical Working Group on tertiary education should take its findings into consideration; specific interventions be addressed at the national level in response to some of the more country-specific findings and that consideration be given to the overlap between formal education and technical and vocational training.
It was also agreed that the use of ICTs including animation techniques should be considered in the formal education system, particularly at the early childhood level.
The COHSOD also encouraged Member States to utilize the Framework, when completed, in ensuring timely and harmonized regional reports on the agreed goals and targets underlined in that document.
COHSOD also agreed to give consideration to the proposal from UNICEF to include a Social Budgeting component in the Monitoring and Evaluation Framework for Action for Children and requested UNICEF to provide updates on this issue.
The COHSOD also received and discussed an update on new directions in the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) and its implications for the reform of secondary education.
The Report highlighted the role of ICTs in driving the education sector especially in the context of increased access and equity even while maintaining quality.
The Report also featured the new and innovative programmes and certification being introduced by CXC and called for the support of Member States in full implementation of its activities.
The meeting commended CXC for its vision and for marketing a range of new initiatives.
COHSOD also committed to supporting the new directions being charted by CXC in expanding its range of certification to include non-traditional disciplines, and noted that efforts had been made to mobilize resources for CXC.
The meeting further encouraged Member States to give tangible support to the activities of the CXC, especially in the area of resource mobilisation.
The 20th COHSOD also received an update from the Caribbean Knowledge Learning Network (CKLN) on the Network – [email protected] that would link all tertiary institutions within the Caribbean.
It was noted that the first eight countries would be connected by the first quarter of 2011.
The report outlined the design of the fibre optic network which would connect all CARICOM Member States in the first instance and subsequently, the rest of the world.
However, it was noted that the CKLN was established as a Foundation registered in Grenada under the oversight of CARICOM and that Heads of Government had mandated the CARICOM Secretariat to establish the CKLN as an Inter-Governmental Agency replacing the CKLN Foundation.
To date nine Member States had signed the Agreement with three others giving firm commitments.
COHSOD further noted that Heads of Government had mandated Ministers of Education to form the Council of the CKLN Agency, and urged Member States to sign and ratify the Agency Agreement.
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