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Mar 15, 2017 News
Although it now benefits from a reinstated subvention, the Critchlow Labour College (CLC) is still barely able to do what is necessary to have an optimum operation. This is in light of the fact that the subvention for which it is now
eligible has been slashed by nearly half the amount it was accustomed to a few years ago.
This disclosure was recently made by President of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), Ms Coretta McDonald. The operation of the CLC is governed by the GTUC, a body to which McDonald was elected to head last year.
According to McDonald, it is her intention as President of the GTUC, to ensure that “the College becomes the number one labour college in the country where we can offer that second chance not only to workers but also to young people who might be dropouts and need another boost to top up on their qualifications to gain entry to university or the Cyril Potter College of Education.”
McDonald disclosed, “We are trying to ensure that we bring the college to a certain level where it can be on par with that of other labour colleges in the Caribbean.”
But in order to reach this ambitious destination, McDonald considered that “it is going to call for a whole lot but I am prepared to go that extra mile to ensure that together with the administrative staff of the Critchlow Labour College, we can move it to the level we want the College to be at.”
The subvention to the institution was halted by the previous administration. But according to McDonald, although Government has been lending its support by reinstating the subvention the sum currently being offered is not nearly enough to do what is necessary to reform the college.
“Although we are glad that Government has introduced the subvention there are some issues with it…What is happening right now is that the subvention that the college was accustomed to having, $37 million or somewhere around that figure, has been reduced to $15 million which of course, if you look at the drop, is going to have a serious impact in terms of what the college is supposed to actually be doing,” according to McDonald.
According to the GTUC President, the college has been finding itself in a financial fix since it has over the years been subsidising students who attend but can ill afford to make complete payments.
Added to this, there are other expenses that the college can barely meet such as the costs of utility services and the payment of staff.
“It is quite a lot that we have to do,” said McDonald. She highlighted the need for finances to rehabilitate the college to a more classroom friendly atmosphere.
“We have to rehabilitate the entire structure. We are hoping to move to a more modern day type facility with proper lighting in our classrooms; we are hoping to have air conditioning units in our classrooms and we are going to establish laboratories…we want to have a modern facility so that we can offer our students the kind of quality education that is so needed,” McDonald added.
The CLC was established in 1967 as the educational arm of the trade union movement. It was designed to provide pre-university courses in industrial relations, business, sociology and a CXC programme for early school-leavers who have a desire to obtain those qualifications.
The college has also been able to offer a law programme.
Currently there are a number of classes being conducted at the College. In addition, a section of the building is utilised by the Texila American University.
Ms. McDonald is already caressing ambitious ideas that could help to further improve the College during her tenure. But CLC has long been plagued with financial issues which were slated to be corrected with an announcement by President David Granger during the 11th Parliament, to restore a government subvention.
The College was in financial turmoil after its subvention was stopped by the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) administration in 2004.
But McDonald, since becoming president, considered that government has for a number of years been asking for audited statements for the operation of CLC. She, however, is prepared to do whatever is possible to ensure that the financial records are put in place as far as possible.
McDonald, moreover, emphasised that the GTUC under her leadership will be endeavouring to ensure that all finances it receives from Government is well accounted for.
“We will put in place all of the procedures so that at the end of the year there will be no difficulty, coming from the GTUC, in terms of presenting to Government audited statements,” the President asserted.
“We are going to sit as an executive body to look at that issue and then we will decide from there how much of our audited statements will be given to the government,” said McDonald. There was a period when the College was eligible for no subvention. At that time McDonald asserted she was not an executive of the GTUC.
But she had however claimed to be aware that there was a proposal that was given to the Ministry of Education to, rather than just hand over finances to the GTUC, have it instead be used to do some rehabilitation work at the college. That process, according to McDonald, has been moving apaceoot.
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