The Daily Herald reports that Foundation Social Workplace Saba and University of the West Indies (UWI) established a mutually beneficiary relationship to open up a wide array of cost-efficient educational opportunities for Saba residents. UWI offers an online open campus programme to fit Saba’s needs. Representatives of the Anguilla campus presented themselves to Saba during a public event hosted at Eugenius Johnson Center on Friday. UWI representatives also presented the programme on the local radio station on Saturday morning. FSWS Director La-Toya Charles and Administrative Assistant/Open Campus Site Coordinator Sharon Lake explained the goals of the cooperation in an interview. Lake said UVI was looking at the possibilities of expanding its student-base in the region. It recently liaised with Philipsburg Jubilee Library on St. Maarten in June and held an information session there outlining UWI’s online educational offer.
The benefit for island residents is that the university allows participants to pursue accredited degrees from the comfort of their own home. The online open campus offers Bachelor of Science degrees in an array of fields, including accounting, banking and finance, management, youth development and social work. It offers Bachelor of Education degrees, associate degrees, a range of continuing education and professional development degrees, certificates and diplomas. “Some of the one year pre-university certificates in hospitality management or human resources, early childhood education and entrepreneurship are geared towards individuals who may wish to upgrade their on-job performance,” said Lake. The programmes also cater to people, who may have been out of the academic environment for some time and are determined to get a degree or diploma they did not have an opportunity to obtain earlier due to various life factors. Post-graduate diplomas, Master’s in arts and education could also be pursued, while allowing residents to keep their current employment on Saba. The opportunity is a boon, addressing the “brain drain” of youth leaving the island to study abroad. It could also allow Saba to upgrade the local labour force and avoid the need to bring in skilled professionals, if the specific job requirements can be attained via online courses, it was stated.
Charles approached Jefferson Coffie of the Study Financing Division of Government Service Caribbean Netherlands RCN to find out if the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science would accredit the Online Campus for financial support. Because students from Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba are dispersed, seeking higher education within the region, the United States and The Netherlands, the office does not issue individual accreditation for such a programme. Decisions would be made on a caseby-case basis. With online courses equally accredited as on-campus courses and with Saba students already attending UWI and receiving financial assistance, chances are the programmes would be financially supported by the Ministry of Education, it was stated.
Applications can be made online, and the course load can be fully completed online or be blended with sitdown exams to be taken in accredited test centres.
Foundation Social Workplace Saba is looking into registering its Adult Continuing Education (ACE) computer centre as a test-taking location on Saba. The programme could drastically cut cost involved with studying abroad.
Charles added that the Foundation is able to accommodate secure surveillance of exams. ACE staff can act as liaison between students, the university and the study financing organization. Foundation Social Workplace Saba could assist students in the application process, whereas ACE may facilitate a study environment. English as a second-language course for Saba’s Spanish-speaking minority may also be provided via the Open Campus under a “special admission” facility. The same option stands for individuals seeking only individual courses, such as management accounting or other specific skills.