Canada has stepped up to the plate to enhance Caribbean students’ access to post-secondary education.
While on a seven-day, seven-country Eastern Caribbean tour last week, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs with responsibility for Consular Affairs and the Americas, Diane Ablonczy, announced that Canada will contribute $19.6 million over the next five years to The Strengthening Distance Education in the Caribbean project.
“Canada is committed to helping countries in the Caribbean build a more prosperous and integrated community, generate sustainable economic growth and increase opportunities for its citizens,” said Ablonczy. “Helping the region’s young people develop the high level skills needed to contribute to the workforce is a key step forward reaching those goals.”
The University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus will be the main implementing partner of this project that will help increase access to post-secondary education for remote and under-served communities at up to 42 learning sites across the Caribbean using distance education technologies.
“The Caribbean, because of its geography and isolation of island states, is in need of technology that would allow young people in distant and remote areas to get a post-secondary education without necessarily having to move to Barbados, Trinidad or Jamaica where the three main campuses of the UWI system are,” said former University of Alberta professor, Dr. Andy Knight, who is the director of the UWI Institute of International Relations at the St. Augustine campus.
“Now with the Open Campus, the UWI can utilize the generous financial assistance from the Canadian government to ensure that young people across the entire region have access to high quality education so that they can be competitive with others anywhere in the world. This is a fantastic opportunity.”
Canada’s Minister of International Cooperation, Julian Fantino, said the project will support economic growth and increase employment through the development of human capital.
“By integrating higher education into the Caribbean, Canada is enhancing the ability of Caribbean countries to address the economic and labour market challenges they face, ultimately helping to lift millions of people out of poverty,” said Fantino.
Established in 1948, the UWI serves 16 Caribbean countries and territories. In August 2008, the university launched the Barbados-based Open Campus, offering courses through distance education to non-campus countries.
During her visit to the Bahamas, St. Kitts & Nevis, Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Grenada, Ablonczy also announced increased support for regional security projects in the Caribbean that will help to improve security in the hemisphere and fight the problem of organized crime.
Canadian support, amounting to $5.3 million through the federal government’s Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program (ACCBP), will help to equip the Regional Security System (RSS) – a collective security organization for the eastern Caribbean – with new radar, infrared scanners and avionics for its air wing.
“Canada is committed to working with our partners in the Caribbean to build a more prosperous and secure hemisphere for all peoples of the Americas,” said Ablonczy. “By supporting the Regional Security System, Canada is improving safety in the region and helping to detect, disrupt and deter criminal organizations who work to bring drugs and contraband north.”
Since 2009, Canada has contributed approximately $20 million through the ACCBP to support police professionalization, justice reform, the fight against illicit drug trafficking, anti-corruption projects and anti-money-laundering efforts.