Dr. Francis Severin
Dr. Francis Severin

Education may be the only hope in a gloomy economic environment and students who take the bold step to educate themselves have few choices.

Dr. Francis Severin, Director of the University of the West Indies Open Campus Country Sites told the Recognition and Awards Ceremony at the Fort Young Hotel on Thursday that most students attend classes in further education to improve their economic conditions.

"At least, that is your hope. It takes much courage, discipline and energy to do this but the truth is that we hardly ever have choice in the matter. If you do not advance yourselves academically and technically, your families and you will become more financially and socially vulnerable," Dr. Severin said. "The alternative, which does not seem to me to be a plausible option, is sitting down, throwing your hands in the air and succumbing to slothful and indolent behaviour. This will take you nowhere, and will do so rapidly".

During the ceremony, 39 students were recognized and presented with certificates in areas such as Certificate in Early Childhood Care and Education; Certificate in the Human Resource Management; Associate of Science; Bachelor of Education; Bachelor of Sciences (Social Sciences); Bachelor of Science (Nursing Post RN); Executive Diploma in Management (CHSB); Post Graduate Diploma in Secondary Education; Master's in Education for Literacy Instruction; Masters in Adult and Continuing Education.

While addressing the ceremony, Dr. Savarin announced that the Open Campus is about to begin a major project entitled "UWI Open Campus - Strengthening Distance Education in the Caribbean" (UWIOC-SDEC).

"It is a $31.062 million (CAD) project, of which $19.26 million will be provided under an agreement with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade & Development (formerly known as Canadian International Development Agency), buttressed by contributions from UWI of $7.658 million, Caribbean Development Bank of $3 million and Jamaica United Access Fund of 1.144 million dollars," he said.

"This project aims to increase employment and other income-generation opportunities by improving access to post-secondary education for women and men living in remote and under-served communities of the Caribbean by increasing the number of employable graduates.

"UWI will develop and introduce a set of Distance Education (DE) offerings throughout the English-speaking Caribbean region currently served by UWI Open Campus.

"The project includes major components aimed at creating and implementing new market demand-responsive Distance Education courses and programs; and, strengthening the long term capacity of UWI as an institution. The latter includes strengthening of both human resources and institutional infrastructure such as systems, processes and, to a very limited extent, physical facilities of the University."