Time to Build Barbados Silicon Valley

Four transformational truths are Timing, Innovation, Strategy and CollaborationThe Elements of Transformation Strategy

There is the proven that individuals and businesses who continually adapt to the environment in which they operate will likely succeed. If we try to fit how the local public sector has been managing its business compared to the private sector and the world it gives currency to the use of the word anachronistic. Prime Minister Mia Mottley has been a frequent user of the word of late.

Unfortunately as part of government’s objective to modernize processes in the public sector, hundreds of low level, low skilled workers have been retrenched. Understandably concerned Barbadians have inquired why send home workers from the bottom if the exercise is about cutting cost? We have to protect the most vulnerable and we will be holding the government to its word that BERT has an adequate safety net included.

Honest Barbadians will admit  however if the public service is to operate efficiently in the current environment there must be a job redesign. We have listened to successive governments braying about improving business facilitation. It is not the fault of the workers although the blogmaster will suggest this is where trade unions- the workers representative- have failed in the last 25 years to strategically add value to the process of nation building.

It is an indictment on the leadership of Barbados that in 2018 government departments still record transactions in ledgers- documents still require the ‘lick’ of a stamp. The blogmaster supports the requirement to urgently transform from the analogue to the digital. Leveraging technology to efficiently deliver services is a no-brainer.  What is difficult to understand is how come successive Barbados governments have invested billions in education per capita and lag scores of other countries that have expended less!

During a recent press conference Sir Hiliary and Eudine Barriteau of the University of the West Indies (UWI) highlighted that the regional university was ranked 591 out of the 1,258 in the  Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings. Of interest is that both of them touched on the ‘technology and innovation park‘ which is promised to open in Bridgetown in January 2019.

In the link provided we are informed the facility will house classes to support a Bsc. Software Engineering degree programme and also technology start-up bushiness to conduct research and development in conjunction with students at the UWI. She also revealed that talks have started with Gabriel Abed of Bitt Inc about supporting new tech start ups.  Beckles also shared this is being done with the cooperation of Chinese Universities.

In BU’s most recent blog – Senator Rawdon Adams Sobering Intervention in the Debt Restructure Debate  Adams asked what kind of Barbados do we need to build now that we have dismantled what was to deliver on the kind of life we want (words to this effect).
Barrow presided over an agrarian economy, Tom Adams shifted to a mix of agrarian and services and Owen Arthur went the whole hog by switching out to a services economy. Given the suspicion how the world views jurisdictions that provide services for international business companies there is clearly an urgent requirement to incorporate new business lines to diversify and hopefully spur economic growth. Feedback so far is that the RERE programme is only a baby step in the right direction, it has to go a lot further.  Making Bridgetown a smart city is a Barbados Labour Party (BLP) manifesto promise. Ronald Jones had responsibility for Human Development and innovation. What was achieved in this regard is not worth mentioning. Pushing more ‘coding‘ in schools is a national imperative.
Although mentioning China is a hot button word for many- a hegemonist is a hegemonist- a look at how it has been integrating technology to create opportunities for its people is instructive.

 

UWI, Cave Hill to LEAD the Charge to Revive Agriculture Sector

The press report did not list minister of Agriculture David Estwick as among the officials present when the announcement was made this week by Professor Eudene Barriteau.

Professor Eudene Barriteau, Principal of the UWI, Cave Hill campus committed the Cave Hill campus to developing 30 acres of land that was donated to the university by the Edghills of Dukes plantation in St. Thomas a couple years ago. According to the report USD34 million will be spent to develop an agri-business creating 1500 jobs, a break from the trend of planting concrete on arable land in Barbados. Further, the entity will be designed to facilitate training and research for the Caribbean region. One could hear the enthusiasm for the venture by Principal Barriteau as she shared details about what promises to be a transformative project.

The project is to kickoff mid-next year!

She said the project, which is expected to take about two years to complete, would also accelerate the thrust towards greater self-sustainability in food production and food security with a significant portion of the almost 30 acres of land being set aside as agricultural parcels for farming. In addition, the park will accommodate agro-processing and meat-curing facilities, a chocolate manufacturing and training facility, cotton processing facilities, a food standards laboratory, a sewerage plant treatment and recreational spaces…

The project is being funded by the Government of Barbados through its bilateral aid programme with the People’s Republic of China.

Barbados Today

This is good news indeed to observe the premier learning institution in Barbados leading the charge to resuscitate the agriculture sector. The economic pundits have all slammed the door of Barbados pursuing agriculture because of high production costs. We will monitor the debate with interest.

Educate and Produce is the Way Forward

Submitted by William Skinner

educate-produceEducation is one of the many tools a country uses for progress. Somehow we have convinced ourselves that it is the only tool and it must come in a defined format, which must never be changed. Education like any other national tool must undergo redefining and utilized strategically or it falls by the wayside like any other endeavour that is left to its own devices.

A recent photo of a top university administrator, bedecked in shoes and hand bag made from the black belly sheep skin, is perhaps the most exciting news coming from within the walls of UWI for some time. We recall about four decades ago, our craftsmen were taking the skin from cows and making belts. Almost everybody had a “cow skin belt”. If my memory serves well, I think we had some car seat covers locally made as well. They eventually disappeared because at that time they were seen more as oddities than foreign exchange earners. Nobody thought a tannery would have been a good investment. Nearly three decades ago, we were also told that the same black belly sheep produces a top class meat (mutton) that will be a world beater. Then we heard that somebody in Texas had literally hijacked the black belly sheep by some legal manoeuvre.

On this occasion, the folks at UWI enlisted the services of a tannery in Italy. The Black Belly Sheep Leather Project has local business mogul, Sir Charles Williams, as one the projects top supporters. In all fairness to Sir Charles, he has always promoted the economic benefits of the black belly sheep.

We hope that this project gets off the ground and employment is found and a means of production to produce and market more than the pair of shoes for display on the front page of our papers. We have produced hundreds of university graduates in all disciplines and yet to this very day our country is poorly marketed. We have little or no competitive agro based industries. And we have allowed all our nutritious fruits to fall to the ground as we are more attracted to packaged fruit , grapes and apples from “over way”. The fact that this project will embrace other Caribbean islands where the black belly sheep is found adds to its potential.

This project indicates that the Centre for Food Security and Entrepreneurship of the University of the West Indies is finding its way. It clearly demonstrates that any progressive place of learning should see its role beyond what is mainly found in text books and academic arm chairing.

The Cost of Scholarship

tertiary_educationThe BU household continues our focus on education by reproducing today’s Barbados Advocate editorial – Barbados Underground

It does not come entirely as a surprise to us that the public discourse surrounding the requirement that Barbadian students at the University of the West Indies (UWI) pay twenty percent of the economic cost of tuition fees for their degree programmes still lingers on more than a year after the introduction of this initiative.

After all, there are many Barbadians who still regard taxpayer-funded University education, at least at UWI, as an irrevocable civic entitlement bequeathed to the nation by former Prime Minister and now National Hero, the Right Excellent Errol Barrow, who envisioned it as one of the building blocks that would enable us to move rapidly from a collection of villages into a nation “punching well above its weight”, as we had come to be described at one time.

On the other hand, there are those, perhaps of equal number, who, for several reasons, consider that the requirement for students to pay fees for a UWI education is long overdue and very much in current order.

Among these reasons is what we choose to term the “just deserts” principle that entails the current cohort being required to pay principally because their predecessors wasted a good thing and spent many years, at the taxpayer’s expense, engaged in studies that should have been concluded much earlier. Had these wastrels not been permitted to be so lax in their intellectual pursuits, the state would have had more means today to provide education to a greater number of citizens.

Another is that, in any event, the new financial order does not permit any entitlement so lavish as universal tertiary education free at source for a “scrunting” third world nation, when some major world powers elect not to guarantee this benefit at all, despite their ostensibly greater access to financial resources.

As a corollary to this, there also exists the notion that little more than a sound secondary education is required for democratic citizenship and that tertiary education should be viewed rather as an investment that the individual makes in himself or herself with the expectation that it will return sizeable dividends in future by way of more substantial remuneration in one’s career.

Earlier this week, the debate was further joined by one former educator, Senator Alwin Adams who advanced the thesis, as is reported in the headline story, “Pay the Cost,” published in the Barbados Advocate for Tuesday, December 6. According to the report, in his written contribution to a recently launched publication, “Barbados: Fifty Years of Independence”, Senator Adams posits the view that university students should pay fees, although at the same time he issues the rider that every student who qualifies should be granted admission to the University.

This apparent paradox illustrates the national dilemma perfectly. We are anxious not to disenfranchise the poor bright boy or girl who has always been there in our educational culture; yet we recognize that it is no longer financially feasible or sustainable to continue the phenomenon of state-provided, taxpayer-funded university education for the numbers that now claim entitlement.

The self-evident solution is clearly a financial one. Whether through directed state funding by way of bursaries or scholarships; through tax incentives or through delayed repayment of student loans, a means must be found to ensure that our best brains are not deprived of an exposure that might inure ultimately to the benefit of themselves and the country because of the prohibiting cost of scholarship.

The current governing administration has already made significant headway along this path by creating additional bursaries based on household need. In this context, the major difficulty appears to be simply a lack of awareness of the existence of this recourse by those that might profit most from it.

The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – The Mirage of Integration (ii)

Caricom“The Community and Common Market are intended to promote the coordinated development of the region and to increase intra-regional trade thereby reducing dependence on extra-regional sources. The community will institutionalize the machinery for the many shared services, which already exist and which even the most prosperous of the More Developed Countries, could not operate on its own.” –

Errol Barrow, (July 4, 1973) when the Treaty of Chaguaramas was signed, establishing the Caribbean Community and Common Market

More than forty years after the founding fathers of the Caribbean Community [CARICOM] initiated that regional project, the process of true integration, as opposed, perhaps, to cooperation at carefully chosen levels, has been scarcely advanced. Indeed, the three leading institutions that might have served as most cogent evidence of a deepening regional integration appear currently to be battling against the odds for relevance and for their continued existence in their originally contemplated forms.

The University of the West Indies [UWI], an institution that preceded the formation of CARICOM, but fittingly symbolic of the regionally integrated effort in tertiary education and developmental research, struggles to maintain its unitary character through the One University initiative, although the fight may have already been lost so far as the traditional professional disciplines of Medicine and Law are concerned.

West Indies cricket, for decades a highly successful example of what we may achieve together, has succumbed to the effects of indiscipline, inconsistency and shallow concentration of some of its players and is currently placed near the bottom of the world rankings in those longer versions of the game that we once ruled as champions. The recent trifecta of victories in global contests should have captured the popular regional imagination of a soonest return to superiority.

At the same time however, it has served to expose to universal scrutiny the festering sore that constitutes the industrial relation between the players and the West Indies Cricket Board, scarcely a recipe for prospects of future success.

Now, in consequence, some regional heads of state, rather than seeking to use the moral authority of their offices to mend the broken fences between the Board and the players, for reason (s) not immediately clear to this writer, have sought to demand the removal of the constitutionally elected directorship of what is essentially a private organization and to establish some other body more acceptable to them in its stead.

I dealt with this matter in the first part of this essay last week and the suggestion from some readers that the heads of government might, as a last resort, simply refuse to allow the WICB to stage matches under its auspices in their respective jurisdictions is liable to create more problems than it might ever resolve, for all concerned, not excluding those leaders who might think of playing this card.

A third regional body, itself created by international treaty, has suffered perhaps the “most unkindest” cut of all. The Caribbean Court of Justice [CCJ] established by the regional constitution to interpret that Constitution itself, the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, and to replace the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as the final appellate court for regional jurisdictions, has failed spectacularly to capture the regional imagination in its secondary guise.

Four jurisdictions only have found it possible so far to accede to its apical appellate function -Barbados, Guyana, Belize and Dominica- although, to be fair, other voices have been raised in favour of accession, and Antigua & Barbuda has put arrangements in place for a constitutionally required referendum to be able to replace the JCPC which is deeply entrenched in its Constitution as that nation’s final court.

Others appear, however, to languish under the disablement of partisan political dissension, an absence of political will or plain suspicion as to the international allure of any regional court. The insecure regional phenomenon of “how we go look (to others) ” is apparently not restricted to the populace of any one country only.

Not that one would think that the integration project is anything other than alive and well if we are to judge from the lofty aspirational speeches of regional leaders. Hear former Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago, Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar in 2013, “Our challenge is not to be decisive, not to hesitate, not to reverse, not to turn around. Our challenge is not to delay and loiter over hardship, adversity or difficulty, but to persist and to rally on our course towards the realization of our destiny that our forefathers have set for us…”

And Mrs Portia Simpson Miller, the former Prime Minister of Jamaica, “CARICOM…represents the vision and aspiration of a forefathers for a strong integrated region which would provide the best prospects for economic and social development…”

Another former leader, President Ramotar of Guyana was more realist in his assessment, “…We have studies on transportation, we have the Regional Financial Architecture, the free movement of people and hassle fee travel is vital and very important in helping us to strengthen our integration movement. This implementation deficit needs to be resolved lest we find ourselves guilty of a commitment deficit…”

This observation by ex-President Ramotar, especially those aspects concerning free movement and hassle free travel, provides an ideal point of departure for the third part of this piece; the pledged interstatal commitment to regional freedom of movement of CARICOM nationals and its collision with a contrasting amalgam of shoddy generalization, of a select xenophobia, of jingoism and of a crass appeal to national sovereignty whenever reminded of voluntarily undertaken obligations that bedevils our best efforts to act as committed regional partners in any integration exercise in this context.

To be continued…

Jameca Falconer, PhD Receives Fulbright Award to Train at UWI,Cave Hill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Jameca Falconer, PhD

Date: Telephone: 314-800-4215
Jameca Falconer, PhD Director for Counseling and Psychological Services at Logan University

Jameca Falconer, PhD Director for Counseling and Psychological Services at Logan University

Jameca Falconer, PhD Director for Counseling and Psychological Services at Logan University in St. Louis Missouri Continue reading

Kindly Honour Your Word Mr. Minister

Submitted Napolean Bonaparte

Will the Minister of Education, the Hon. Ronald Jones update the people of Barbados as to his seriousness and intentions of remaining in his post and fulfilling the institutions mandate, as our children’s education, (that which most Barbadians cherish) is at stake. Mr. Jones if you reading this and if you have not yet noticed, we have become disgruntled as to their plight with you at the helm.

As you may know, Barbadians for many years have used this vehicle education, as a means of social mobility and have been most discreet and frugal with their spending to enable at least their children (if not themselves) the opportunity to further themselves. To have expected parents of the current years’ university entrances to find between $5,500 and $19,765 at the spur of the moment is wrong. Your proposal to somewhat buffer this unexpected hardship was a proposed 3,000 bursaries to families lacking the means.

Exactly where does these UWI students and their families stand with regards to these bursaries you have promised? Are you aware of the stresses and strains placed on them now that the term has started, with regards to completion of their education program?

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Whither the School of Medical Sciences at Cave Hill!

Submitted by Lemuel
...Class of 1969 (Professor Henry Fraser’s Class) 50% went to the US to do their internship and most of them never returned...

Class of 1969 (Professor Henry Fraser’s Class) 50% went to the US to do their internship and most of them never returned

The University of the West Indies (UWI) was established in 1948. Currently, it has full campuses in Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados. The Mona Medical Faculty started in 1948 with 33 students. To date, the UWI has produced over 7,000 medical graduates. In 2008, the Cave Hill Campus took the bold step to establish a full faculty of medical sciences.

History

The UWI took over from Codrington College, which was the only institution that offered higher education at the degree level by 1953. Degrees in the Classics, Humanities and Theology were offered. All of this was done in affiliation with Durham University. However, it should be noted that the primary intent of the Codrington Will was to ensure that the College would have offered medical degrees. It is not clear why that was not done.

Therefore, any Caribbean national seeking medical education had to journey to Canada, the UK and the US. By September 1946, with an affiliation with the University of London, a medical school was set up in Mona, Jamaica. Over 600 students applied for entry, but only 33 were accepted after enduring a “special entrance examination” and interviews.

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To Barbadians ALL – Sir Hilary Beckles the TRUTH!

Submitted by Douglas
Sir Hilary Beckles Principal of UWI, Cave Hill

Sir Hilary Beckles Principal of UWI, Cave Hill

I write this out of a concern that we are not hearing the FULL TRUTH about this issue of the FUNDING of UWI education. As I read the comments of the Principal and Pro-Vice Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary McDonald Beckles, I Cry shame on a man I formerly respected. As one of his former students I admired his brilliance and indeed while I have lost respect for this man, I must admit he did much to transform many aspects of the Cave Hill Campus. He built buildings, indeed monuments. I did hear staff, teaching and other, complain that you could not question him, he alone, had all the answers. I understand he brooks no opposition.

I was listening to many callers overs the past few months, and most recently when I heard a Government Minister trying to rationalise the decision to have students pay part of the cost of their education at UWI. I asked myself, how did we get here? Those who support the Government say this should have been in place a long time ago. Those who oppose the Government say students should not pay. We need to hear from the Minister of Education. He did not even touch this in the Estimates Debate. I have been trying to understand why we have reached this point, and have been asking questions of all kinds of people. They have all left me with more questions than answers and I therefore want to pose some questions to the University, its Principal, Deputy Principal and all the senior managers as well as the Minister of Education (and those who went before him).

Continue readingBeckles II, Beckles III, Beckles IV and Beckles V

Harry Husbands: A DLP Mole

Submitted by Jane Brathwaite

BU understands Harry Husbands is the son of Austin Husbands and NOT Senator Harcourt Husbands – David.

Harry Husbands, son of Senator Harry Husbands

Harry Husbands, son of Austin Husbands

The truth is: Harry Husbands is a token and a mole for the Government of Barbados/Democratic Labour Party and has been placed by the party to get things done their way as the current President has been found to be very resistant.

For the signing off of many decisions that affect the University, the President’s signature is needed in order for the decisions to be implemented. The current President is often in disagreement with the government of Barbados and sometimes with the administration of the University.

Here are the facts:

1) Harry Husbands resigned a very well paying Personal Assistant position for the Minister of Labour Esther Byer-Suckoo, paying over $4000 monthly, to become the President of the Guild of Students less than two weeks before Guild Elections.

Related Link: Young Democrats: Value education

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UWI GUILD Meeting Ends in TURMOIL

Submitted by Guild Watchdog
(L-R) Guild President; Damani Parris, Law Rep; Daniel Davies, Guild Treasurer; Ital Spencer reviewing a student petition against paying tuition fees

(L-R) Guild President; Damani Parris, Law Rep; Daniel Davies, Guild Treasurer; Ital Spencer reviewing a student petition against paying tuition fees

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.

Energy in Renewable Energy

Brynn O'Reilley, a second year student in the Energy Systems Engineering Technology at St. Lawrence College plugs in an electric vehicle at the launch of the college's new charging station. (Elliot Ferguson The Whig-Standard)

Brynn O’Reilley, a second year student in the Energy Systems Engineering Technology at St. Lawrence College plugs in an electric vehicle at the launch of the college’s new charging station. (Elliot Ferguson The Whig-Standard)

Now that the outcry over government’s decision to make UWI students pay tuition cost has abated, there is the opportunity to debate the issue unhinged from political rhetoric. Let us keep hope alive!

At  a recent address to the CARILEC Renewable Energy Conference Minister of Energy Darcy Boyce stated that although he understands the industry is of national importance, government will not rush policy decisions to impact the stability of the grid. Many have come to appreciate that ‘rushing’ is not a quality which is associated with the Stuart led government.  At the same CARILEC conference Caricom Ambassador expressed the view that Barbados has reached a juncture where important decisions have to be made concerning energy production and there was a ‘certain urgency’ required.

Commonsense dictates that government and the regulator should not take decisions to destabilize the EMERA owned sole electric company in Barbados. BU must question whether the minister with responsibility for energy should be the one quoted. Minister Boyce must be perceived by his utterances to be the champion of government’s renewable energy program (RE). There must be no doubt in the minds of members of the public that he is part of a decision making process to rollout RE which is calibrated to the urgency of the times. All Barbadians must feel the weight of importance which the RE program has for Barbados. We must feel his energy!

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UWI Fees Standing On Current Enrolled Barbadians Students

Submitted by Politically Correct (to alert the President of the Guild of this vital information)
President of the Student's Guild, Damani Parris

President of the Student’s Guild, Damani Parris – photo credit:Nation newspaper

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.

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UWI, Tertiary Education Cost and the Budget

Submitted by Fair Play
Sir Frank Alleyne

Sir Frank Alleyne

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:

  • current physical development at the Cave Hill campus is not sustainable;
  • maintenance and personnel to staff the new structures will be difficult to maintain;
  • salary levels are very high;
  • UWI’s operating cost (to central government) has risen exponentially from about $53 million in 2005 to over $126 million in 2012-2013;

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