Senator the Honourable, Fazal Karim, MSTTE - Remarks at ACTT's Conferment of Institutional Accreditation Status to COSTAATT, UTT and UWI - May 16, 2011

MAY 18TH, 2011
AT 10:00 A.M.

Master of Ceremonies...

Chairman of the Accreditation Council of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Michael Dowlath and other members of the Board of ACTT

Acting Executive Director, Dr. Michael Bradshaw and the staff of the ACTT

Chairman of the University of Trinidad and Tobago, Prof. Kenneth Ramchand and other members of staff of the UTT

Chairman of the College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Allan McKenzie, President Emmanuel Gonsalves and other members of staff of COSTAATT

Deputy Registrar of the University of the West Indies, Mr. David Moses

Director of the Instructional Development Unit of UWI, Dr Anna May Edwards-Henry

Campus Coordinator for this Accreditation Project, Mrs. Deborah Souza-Okpofabri

Quality Assurance Experts

Members of the Media

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today represents a very historic day in the higher education landscape, not only here in Trinidad and Tobago, but also within the wider Caribbean region. It is not only that these three institutions - UWI, UTT and COSTAATT - are the first to have achieved Institutional Accreditation status here in Trinidad and Tobago but also the first among all other institutions represented in the Caribbean Community. This, I am sure you will agree, is not only a significant achievement but one that cannot be overstated.

Likewise, I must also offer congratulations to the Accreditation Council of Trinidad and Tobago for their role in the accreditation of these three institutions. The Accreditation Council of Trinidad and Tobago, created by an Act of Parliament - Act 16 of 2004 - and coming out of a prior report done by CORD-NIHERST and the National Training Agency, has established a structured regulatory framework based on international norms and standards for assuring the quality of higher education. It has built a reputation for being on the cutting edge of quality assurance and arguably a leader in quality assurance in the region.

In their short time of establishment and launch in October of 2005, the ACTT has achieved quite a number of goals – the main one being the registration of 81 tertiary level providers in T&T.

As you all are aware of the many initiatives since the start of this Government’s term in office, almost one year ago to date, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago have been working assiduously towards supporting the growth and quality in higher education, as well as technical and vocational education in Trinidad and Tobago.

It is because of these reasons I am genuinely pleased to be here today to offer congratulatory remarks to the University of the West Indies St. Augustine Campus, the University of Trinidad and Tobago and the College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago for having successfully completed this phase of Institutional Accreditation and the ACTT in successfully guiding these three institutions through an intensive and comprehensive process. The learnings from this exercise will greatly support the next phase of Programme Accreditation as we seek to create more indigenous programmes tailored to our national needs.

Over the past year the landscape of tertiary education in Trinidad and Tobago has undergone a series of revolutionary changes under the People’s Partnership Government. One of the first initiatives under my tenure was the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement between the National Training Agency and the Accreditation Council of Trinidad and Tobago that signalled the first step towards a functioning seamless
education and training system – where our brother and sisters, our sons and daughters, will be able to enter and re-enter the system of education and training. This system will be further strengthened through the development of a National Qualifications Framework, from nursery to tertiary. This initial proposal is expected to go before cabinet soon and for distribution to the wider public for comment and consultation.

Ladies and Gentlemen, whether it was the successful completion of the Policy on Tertiary Education, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and Lifelong Learning or the expansion of GATE to cater for Vocational Education and Training or the establishment of a National Commission for Higher Education (NCHE) that promises to provide further guidance as the sector undergoes a process of rationalization, harmonization and modernization, or whether it is the development of a National Research and Education Network (NREN) that will link all local tertiary education institutions or the expansion of UWI to a Penal-Debe Campus, COSTAATT to new locations in Chaguanas and Sangre Gande and the UTT to open soon the Chaguanas Campus in Charlieville, these are just small steps in providing better access and service to all our citizens.

As the Ministry of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education continues to deliver on its promise to cultivate a diversified, knowledge-intensive economy, it is indeed a pleasure to note some of our key strengths identified by our international independent assessors during this accreditation process:

  • Successful management of institutional expansion and growth of the student population
  • Diversity of curriculum and programme offerings
  • Excellence in faculty development and quality of teaching
  • A culture of continuous improvement
  • Successful strategic planning, implementation and monitoring systems, and
  • Robust Quality Assurance Systems

These achievements demonstrate that not only our institutions of higher learning can match the quality expected of higher education institutions around the world but that their Accreditation status will ensure international recognition of our graduates as they seek further opportunities in our globalised economy.

The ACTT stamp of approval our institutions have earned is in support of the Government’s framework for sustainable development, a primary one being their role in aiding the Government in its quest to achieve a 60% participation rate within post-secondary education by building confidence in our institutions within the public domain.

While we recognise our achievements, I implore you to continue to improve our higher education sector and to rival its leaders:

  • We must more effectively develop our teaching and research agenda in line with our economic goals and alignment with the demands of employers.
  • We must also give our students the tools to become Graduate Entrepreneurs to really succeed in developing the level of innovation and sustainable development required. Harvard University alone has produced over 60,000 graduate entrepreneurs – these are not job seekers but young people that create jobs.
  • New modes of student assessment must include practical and work based assessment strategies through internship or practicum components within the programmes.
  • Our non-academic operations must be based on sound policies that can stand up to the rigours of the day
  • We must seek out new technologies and implement new forms of distance learning modalities to allow for “learning-on-demand” applications.
  • And finally, today over 95% of all funding comes from the public purse and therefore it is incumbent on us to seek out other sources of funding – from the private sector and international donor agencies

In closing, I must remind this audience that ours is a nation seeking to establish itself as a notable presence on the world stage. The People’s Partnership Government is cognizant of the fact that we do so during an age where knowledge is the ultimate source of power, and I assure you that we are treading a steady part toward building human capacity through fully accredited, internationally recognized higher education institutions.
Again I say Congratulations and wish you all success in your future endeavours towards meeting and surpassing standards of quality in education.

I thank you all.