Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, has assured staff at the St. Elizabeth-based Sydney Pagon Agricultural School that no decision has been taken regarding the institution becoming a department of the University of the West Indies (UWI).
Speaking against the background of recent media reports, Mr. Holness told a press briefing on Friday, February 25, following a meeting with staff and administrators at the institution that, “even if there were going to be changes, there are conventions, there are processes, and laws that we have to follow, and we are not only here to serve the interest of the students and the national interest. We are also, here to serve the best interest of the teachers”.
The Minister added that the an exploration that was taking place to see how the school could collaborate with UWI, is now on hold, and that his ministry would fast-track a consultative process to ensure that the critical stakeholders were on board and fully abreast of the idea behind the collaboration.
“So, persons who may be concerned about their employment, I want to assure them that we have a duty to make sure that if there are changes, that their best interests are preserved,” he said.
Mr. Holness explained that early last year Cabinet had taken a decision to look at the provision of education services to agriculture, “specifically, the training of technical persons, and increasing research in agriculture. The duty of the Ministry of Education is to provide those services and to support all the other productive industries in their human resource requirement”.
He pointed out that the objection to any possible collaboration was pre-mature, and that his ministry would outline, during the upcoming consultations, how resources from both institutions, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Ministry of Education could be beneficial.
“The decision was taken that we should explore collaboration with the University of the West Indies, and Sydney Pagon… we have not yet determined the exact nature of that collaboration,” he stated.
“We have not yet develop any specific framework for collaboration,…once that is developed there will be consultation. There is no need to panic, the Ministry of Education is proud of this institution, we want to continue it, and we want to improve it,” he stated.
CONTACT: GARFIELD L. ANGUS
JIS REGIONAL OFFICE