BU shares the Jeff Cumberbatch Barbados Advocate column – Senior Lecturer in law at the University of the West Indies since 1983, a Columnist with the Barbados Advocate since 2000 and BU commenter – see full bio.
THE AMOUNT OF MONEY the University of the West Indies is spending on the ‘coronation’ of ‘king Hilary’ is of tremendous concern to Minister of Commerce Donville Inniss – Barbados Today
Methinks that the members of this Government will not forgive Sir Hilary for the statement that he made about the state of affairs which obtains at the UWI Cave Hill Campus since the Minister of Finance, in his wisdom, decided that Barbadian students must pay for their UWI Continue reading
Brooks distinguishes two sorts of virtues: resumé virtues and eulogy virtues. Resumé virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace: wealth, fame, status and a great career. Eulogy virtues are the things people will say about you at your funeral: that you were honest, loving, and steadfast. Most of us would say that eulogy virtues are more important, but it’s the resumé virtues we tend to think about the most – About David Brooks latest book The Road to Character
In has become the norm for local leaders in civil society to shout at each other rather than adopt more civilized and constructive methods of engagement. The latest salvo has come from the taciturn Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart who saw merit in bellowing a message to outgoing principal of the Cave Hill Campus, UWI Hilary Beckles on the weekend. The point of contention for Stuart is the criticism by Beckles that a cutback in financial support by government will translate to a social cost especially on working class women.
As far as senior Government minister Donville Inniss is concerned, Barbados is 49 years late in becoming a republic and anyone who thinks the country should wait any longer is ‘innately lazy intellectually’ and has ‘no pride in being Barbadian – Barbados Today
On page 4 of the said issue under the headline “Watch out INNISS ISSUES WARNING TO PEOPLE WHO USE SOCIAL MEDIA FOR SLANDER” the same minister states: “We must never become a society that seeks to stop individuals from expressing their views . . .”
My, my, my are we not a bit thin-skinned.
Government Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner today hit out at the president of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Guild of Students Damani Parris for not thanking Minister of Education Ronald Jones for coming through with bursaries to help Barbadian students pay tuition fees – Barbados Today 25 March
My, my, my, what a tirade!
It seems that this Government really has its back to the wall. What a condescending attitude taken by the Senator. Would she have referred to any of the other heads of unions/organizations as “people like him”? Who are the people like him, Senator Sandiford-Garner? Methinks that you owe, not only the young man, but the whole of this country an apology for such a derogatory statement. All he was doing was giving the UWI Cave Hill campus the type of representation they would expect of him, or anyone else who is head of the guild. And this from a member of this “people-centred Government”!
PRINCIPAL of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, has defended a decision to name the new sports complex at the university after Jamaican Olympic and world sprint champion Husain Bolt – Unease In Barbados Over Decision To Name Cave Hill Sports Complex After Usain Bolt
We are true lovers of things/people foreign. Pray tell me, Sir Hilary, where in Barbados was Usain born?
Why isn’t it being named, as suggested, after Jim Wedderburn, Obadale Thompson, Akela Jones, or any other of our outstanding athletes?
Do we always have to degrade our athletes/artists in such a way?
Is it possible that you don’t want to name it after Akela because you are sexist?
The part about Sir Frank Worrell doesn’t hold water, because Sir Frank had adopted Jamaica as his home, and he was working there.
In any case, I do not only voice my strong opposition to naming the complex after Bolt, I will NOT attend any events at all at that venue!
My money has more sense.
It is the duty and the responsibility of the Government to ensure that the resources of the country are spent in the most prudent manner. In a situation where the resources are already under pressure, government has to take the tough decision to ensure the viability of the service being offered. The area of education has been one of the areas where Government has taken the decision that an intervention was necessary to halt a runaway budget before it collapsed the entire educational system.
In the presentation made to the DLP’s Annual Conference, Prime Minister Stuart articulate what has been the DLP’s longstanding policy as it relates to UWI education:
“One area in which the stridency was very evident was that related to the contribution by student to the cost of their education at the University.
This measure, in which government still continues to meet 80% of the cost, was described variously as a declaration of war on the poor, a cutting back of the opportunities available for persons to access university education, a repudiation of Errol Barrow’s legacy, and an attempt to undermine the viability of the university itself…
The response of the Democratic Labour Party in government to this particular challenge has a history which needs to be told.
Noam Chomsky opines that “it is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and to expose lies”. It begs the question do we have intellectuals in Barbados? Who are they? BU adds another question to the pile – is there morality in local politics?
During the last general election Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart was portrayed as a man of integrity when compared to Owen Arthur. Whether one agrees who won the integrity vote Stuart did not object to the comparison. One year later BU believes Stuart has fallen short of being a man of integrity. Before the political cackle begins it is instructive to lookup the definition of integrity, “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness”. Did Prime Minister Stuart and his Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite now appointed admit that they witnessed unsavoury (illegal) events during election day? The Prime Minister promised he would check every election law on the books and bring the matter to parliament to prevent recurrence and in the process finger the culprits.
On another front BU is reliably informed that the government had been in discussion with the NUPW to send home workers for several weeks before the recent announcement. One must reasonably conclude that Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart – who is the minister responsible for the civil service had to be aware of the decision to retrench workers a long time before it was announced. Remember when the SmartStream system was blamed by Stuart as the reason why temporary workers were not paid? We subsequently found out that temporary workers are not registered on this system for payroll. The decision to send home workers was not arrived at overnight. During the time the discussions were being held the Prime Minister suggested there was a computer glitch when many public officers complained about not being paid. We hesitate to call Prime Minister Stuart a liar BUT he has been less than transparent about government’s position on the tenure of public servants.
Some students described it as deja-vu. Others exclaimed their disapproval, that Ital Spencer was allowed to become Treasurer a second time after being removed by students from tenure on the 2012-13 Guild Council in November 2012.
History was created on his initial removal and it repeated itself on Thursday, 28th November, 2013 when Mr. Italcla “Ital” Spencer was twice removed via ‘Vote of Recall’ by the students of the Cave Hill Campus as the Guild’s Treasurer.
Spencer, who was recently suspended from the University for misconduct regarding the assault of another student, and was barred from representing the University in any official capacity after his suspension concluded, was subject to recall on the grounds of:
“The Freundel Stuart administration says it is sticking to its guns to make Barbadian students at the University of the West Indies start pulling their pockets for tuition fees from next year even though welcoming a new private sector fund to bail out those who cannot afford to pay…The firm position was taken today by Minister of Commerce, and International Business, Donville Inniss, while launching a new charity known as Global Education Scholastic Trust…Inniss said the Government had done the right thing in the circumstances of the economic climate, and would carry through with it…It is not easy for me as a politician that would have taken in recent debates to reduce fees at UWI with effect from 2014, but it is one of those things we felt we had to do, and we stand by that decision.”
What else can one expect from an uncaring Government, whose scions – and probably their scions’ scions – have had a free education at the UWI Cave Hill Campus? The motto of this Government is now “after me the deluge”! Is this the same Government that Minister Blackett called people-centred? I guess he means centred around the 16 DLP Government MPs, but night runs till day catches it!
Minister Inniss can spare us his crocodile tears!
You do not have money for our students at UWI Cave Hill, nor for the QEH, but you have millions of dollars in waivers – including one for food and beverage which no hotel has had before – to throw at a multi-millionaire named “Butch” Stewart, although he took over a hotel here and promised to develop and refurbish it so that Barbadians could get work, but absconded leaving it to moulder and the iron in it to rust! This left those who had hopes of getting a job there up the creek without a paddle! “Is that “the right thing in the circumstances of the economic climate”, Minister Inniss?
While some University Students are worrying about the Governments new policy forcing them to pay tuition fees at The University of the West Indies. It was chaos and turmoil at The Roy Marshall Teaching Complex at The University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus on Thursday night; for the convening of a Guild Council Meeting when once-removed Treasurer of the Guild, Ital Spencer was the centre of contention and disruptive behaviour forcing University Security to end the meeting prematurely.
Mr. Spencer, who was also the Guild Treasurer on the previous Guild Council was accused of manipulating his authority to obtain absolute power and threatening other council officers. These accusations, which offend the Constitution of the Guild and the University’s Code of Ethics warranted him a trial of ‘No Confidence for Recall’ at the hands of the student population resulting in his removal last November.
Sources close to the Cave Hill Guild Council have stated Mr. Spencer dod not submit financial reports, has been accused and proven of using the students’ Guild funds for personal benefit, for example, a first class flight to Jamaica last UWI Games among other aggravated offenses. To this end, the President of the Guild, Mr. Damani Parris, has suspended Mr. Spencer pending another Special Meeting of the Student Body to affect the removal of Mr. Spencer.
On Wednesday, 25th September, 2013 the majority membership of the student executive voted ‘No Confidence’ in Mr. Ital Spencer and have therefore recommended to the student population that he be removed.
This letter is not to slander persons in the Ministry but merely to assist the Guild in fighting the sudden increase in fees for Barbadian students. I will explain how to address this legally below from paragraph 2. The Ministry of Education, Science Technology and Innovation is a puppet Ministry which is suffering at the hands of the International community because of Globalisation. This is a typical encroachment on our sovereignty as a Nation. Changing a name does not mean that you are in alignment with countries that truly have science, technology and innovation based research saving the country money, creating new jobs etc. Minister Ronald Jones is quoted in the advocate as saying “The State does not have money and that citizens must stop being selfish and depending on Government for the State has no money (ADVOCATE 13/9/2013)
Every country listed here in Canada, South Africa, Denmark, Finland and more. I draw to your attention the UWI HANDBOOK and REGULATIONS for each FACULTY, as the first set of evidence and the quality assurance agency in Barbados which promotes quality assurance in higher education for you to use in your arguments. We will now see the power of politics and the role it plays.
Sir Frank Alleyne’s interview on the People’s Business last night was spot-on. As usual, he was cogent, rational, reasonable and, of course, very ‘frank’, no pun intended. All the while, trying not to be overly critical of the administration at Cave Hill, but tacitly showing up its unreasonableness and excessive spending, nonetheless. He walked the proverbial tightrope (having taught there for decades, so he was somewhat circumspect), but he did it well.
It was very interesting television! Lots of good points were made; but a couple salient ones stand out:
I believe our plan to ask students to contribute a small part of the cost of their tertiary education at UWI has more public support than we think. Talking to people from all walks of life, and ironically, particularly among low income earners, there is much support. Their comments run the gamut from: it makes sense; the country cannot afford 100% funding at this time; other countries that are better off than us don’t do it; and, it should have been implemented long ago; to, they have an attitude after graduation – forgetting who paid for their education; and they do not give back to society, especially the doctors and lawyers who charge the same benefactors (the taxpayers) very exorbitant fees.
Barbadians aren’t stupid.
However, over and above those sentiments, generally, most persons I spoke to agree with the percentage the students will have to pay. Even some, like Dr. Leonard Shorey, (a perennial BLP apologist) believe it should have been higher and was long in coming. And, the Sunday Sun poll surprisingly gave majority support to the Gov’t.
Two recent news items have caused me to ponder on the future of young Barbadians. The first is the Minister of Education’s musing that future scholarship winners may not be bonded to return and work in Barbados on completion of their studies. Is this tacit acknowledgement that Barbados may not be reasonably able to employ these graduates? The second item of news is the reported level of indebtedness of Barbados to UWI. Apparently, jobs as well as student admissions are threatened.
While we enjoy the charade that is the Alexandra inquiry and pontificate on the definition of education etc, is it unreasonable to worry that the future development and employment prospects of our young people is growing dim? It appears that as the CSME experiment has been shelved (or was still born) I must ask what other plans are there to expand the opportunities of our many well certified graduates?
Solid gains on Conglomerate and Financial stocks saw the CSX 30 end the week of August 17 higher, while the misery on the Junior Market continued. For the week 7,276,872 valued at $2,164,000 crossed the floors of the six stock exchanges across Caricom, with 23 stocks advancing, 43 declining and 58 remaining unchanged. Jamaica Teas was the volume leader with 2,006,000 shares being traded, Demerara Tobacco Company posted the largest gain for the week (15.07%), while on the losing end, Caribbean Cement fell (12.65%).
It seems as if the ambitions of Sir Hilary Beckles has no limit, given the revelations that the UWI now has plans to occupy the grand Mutual building at the bottom of Broad Street as a campus for part-timers. Somehow it seems as if the notion of prudent spending in these tough times does not apply to the empire-building of Sir Hilary.
In a crude way, it is the exploitation of the nation’s traditional love of education and qualifications, by a university administrator who seems to behave like a horse out of control. As a small island-state, we do not have an abundance of natural resources, Ivy League universities, or even a vast military to enforce our policies. What we do have is a nation hungry for education and a willingness to go to great lengths to educate ourselves, our children and our fellow citizens. Somehow, and for some reason, this reality has rarely impacted with our education policymakers.
Our education policymakers, many of them educated at Cave Hill, seem intimidated by the very idea of imposing tough conditions and benchmarks on Sir Hilary and driving the Cave Hill campus in to the belt-tightening 21st century. In fact, so poor is our education policymaking that since the end of the Second World War, Cameron Tudor still remains out outstanding minister of education. And to believe that we have declined from Tudor, whatever his faults, to the present minister Ronald Jones and the gross incompetence of Alexandra School, is a slap in the face to a once great island.
There has been something of a debate on the funding of higher education in Barbados recently. As is typical, and strange for a well educated country, clear facts and hard information have largely been absent, and persons seem to be taking political and ideological positions. The Nation newspaper recently ran an article about UWI finances after a public pronouncement by the Finance and Economic Affairs Minister. The article prompted me to seek out some hard information on UWI finances, and I was shocked at how hard it was to get some. Finally, after some wheeling and dealing I got my hands on the UWI, Cave Hill audited financials for the period 1999 to 2009.
On Friday August 5 2011, while most of Barbados was partying with Rihanna, there was a loud bang, and the financial world was shaken to the core with the news that major Credit Rating Agency, Standard & Poors (S&P) had downgraded the long term credit rating of the United States of America from AAA to AA+, and with a negative outlook. This momentous decision to downgrade the USA, justified or not, may well in my opinion, hasten a dramatic reduction in the role and influence of the CRAs in global financial markets, and the financial world will be much better for it.
CRAs are private profit oriented entities that issue an opinion on the likelihood a borrower will default on its debt. The opinion is issued in the form of a letter grade, with AAA being the highest rating. The industry is dominated by Moodys Investors Services and Standard & Poors, with Fitch running a distant third. Financial economists have long questioned the value added by the CRAs. To put it simply, many argue that in good times, rating agencies upgrade borrowers, and in bad times they downgrade them. Do you really need them to state the obvious? The CRAs were much maligned for assigning AAA ratings to now worthless subprime mortgage loans, and infamously rating Enron as “Investment Grade” in the same week the company filed for bankruptcy.
Much of the power of the CRAs seems to come from the fact that the credit opinions (ratings) they issue have been written into the law and contracts in many countries. For example, by law or contractual agreement many institutions are only allowed to invest in financial instruments carrying a certain credit rating by one of the major agencies. Also, in many instances, contracts require that financial instruments posted as collateral have a AAA rating. Financial Economists refer to this as the regulatory license granted to the CRAs. In essence to be a player in many financial markets you need the blessing of the CRAs. Due to this fact, attaining or losing a certain credit rating by one of the major agencies is a major issue for many investors and financial institutions. If these laws and contracts are enforced, then come Monday, a number of contracts would have been violated and investors may be forced to sell assets, find new collateral and so on. My guess is rather than face this massive inconvenience, or rather chaos, a number of clauses will either not be enforced or simply changed to allow institutions to continue to hold US government securities and use them as collateral for all kinds of financial contracts despite the downgrade. If this happens, the regulatory license, which has the source of the power of the CRAs would have been undermined and with it some of their influence.