The Phartford Files: BCC Fast Becoming a Basket Case
Submitted by Ironside
One scholarship! That is all the Barbados Community College (BCC) was able to garner in 2019!
Not surprising, given the recent revelations regarding the ongoing scandalous performance of BCC nursing students in the regional nursing examinations.
Well, the Mia Mottely administration has solved the nursing problem: Barbados will be importing nurses and nursing is to be removed from the curriculum of the BCC and (possibly) given to Ross University.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. The problems at the Eyrie institution get more interesting by the semester:
1. Pass mark to 45%; a two stage drop from 60% through 50% over the last ten years or so. In the same time UWI raised its from 45%.
2. Recent implementation of supplemental exams for every student for every major subject across the board – no questions asked; no restrictions – in stark contrast to what obtains at comparable colleges across the world.
3. An arrogant Student Affairs Department – which falls under the ambit of the Registrar – that stuffs upwards of 45 students in rooms designed to comfortably seat 30 students despite specifications from teaching department heads. Every day, some students in some divisions report having to “borrow” furniture from adjacent rooms with the attendant problems of delays in the start of classes and possible injury to fellow students along the narrow corridors.
4. Increasing breakdown in discipline. Tutors complain of the blatant cursing in the closely confined spaces of the college premises and rudeness to tutors with no response from the administration. Some of those confined spaces are just opposite to the offices of the Registrar who has not lifted a finger to check the uncouth behaviour. No surprise there, since it appears that, according to some staff members, the Registrar – Mr. Roger Worrell – can’t decide whether he is “student friendly” or “student centered”. Whichever it is, it does not come with strong discipline! It is simply his sick idea of “loving students”.
5. The treatment of students found guilty of cheating is an eye opener. Under the current directives, if a student is caught cheating in an exam he or she is to have the examination booklet removed and given another one, right there in the examination room, ostensibly pending a later investigation. Such investigations invariably never happen and guilty students continue on the campus with impunity.
6. Failure to get national accreditation even after having begun the process for it more than three years ago and after the appointment of a so-called consultant to manage the process.
7. Increasingly blatant corruption in the institution from successive Boards of Management downwards. The recent appointment of a new principal to the BCC is a case in point and worthy of separate discussion.
The appointee, Mrs. Annette Alleyne, is hitherto an unknown to most BCC staff. Translated, that the means that nobody seems to have ever heard her express an opinion- controversial or otherwise- on anything of educational importance in the institution! In other words, nobody knows if she gives a good Bajan phart about the BCC!
So how does she become principal? Better still, why would she even apply for the job given her lack of management experience and apparent disinterest in the job? And why was she given the job by the Professor Velma Newton led Board of Management when it appears that there were at least three other candidates – with doctoral degrees, demonstrated interest and/or experience and/or expertise – who apparently applied for the job?
How does the Project Director of the IMPACT Justice Project justify brushing aside three other highly qualified candidates who have demonstrated commitment to the BCC for so many years in favour of an obviously shallow candidate, if one can judge by the interviews Mrs. Allyene has given so far?
If one had any suspicions about the new Principal’s appointment, those were confirmed by her no-show on the relatively recent Peter Thorne moderated People’s Business discussion on nursing in Barbados. Mr. Thorne was at pains to point out that they had sent repeated requests to the BCC administration for participation in discussion on the matter.
But perhaps we are being unfair. Maybe the new Principal was under gag order by the Board? That would not be surprising because tight control of communication seems to be the working philosophy of the Mia Mottley administration.
In her “historic” and histrionic meeting with BCC staff a year ago, Professor Velma Newton, short of issuing a threat, left no doubt about how she feels about staff, at any level communicating, with the public without her “blessing”.
That should be very alarming to lovers of freedom and justice, since no such strictures are placed on members of staff of the UWI where the BCC chairperson is still an employee and as noted above, Director of the IMPACT Justice Project. For example, Jeff Cumberbatch, a UWI law lecturer, is a regular contributor to this blog.
What shall we say to these things: “All educators are equal but some are more equal than others?”
There is a lot more than meets the eye here and Phartford Files will have more to say on this later. For the time being, these are a few of takeaways from this BCC case worth noting:
1. The BCC is fast becoming a basket case (“a person or thing regarded as useless or unable to cope”). The cause is deeply rooted in the failure of successive political administrations to appoint competent, professional managers rather than yard fowls and people they can easily control. Both of the so-called main parties are guilty of this practice. This BLP administration has taken it to a new level.
2. Corruption is now spreading like a cancer even across our top educational institutions (it is an open secret that the former SJPP is a DLP political pork barrel).
3. Integrity legislation is a smoke screen and a soother for the masses; it is will not stop this kind of corruption.
4. The current politico-governance system in this country is morally bankrupt at the core and needs to be permanently dismantled.
In the meantime, while we wait patiently for the next election, the powers that be are reminded that the Barbados Community College is funded by our taxes and is therefore, a public institution. The time for a response regarding the BCC is past due!