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College Council to inform government on increments payment to TAMCC employees 

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by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada 

  • Tertiary Education Minister, Pamela Moses, said TAMCC College Council responsible for payment of increments
  • PWU demanding payment of increments of over $6 million from 2014

Interim Chairperson for the TA Marryshow Community College (TAMCC) College Council, Augustine Vesprey, had no other choice but to walk past determined protesters of the Public Workers Union (PWU) as he made his way through the Teachers Education Department moments before convening a meeting with the rest of the members of the council.

The outcome of the meeting held on Tuesday, 12 November is still not known, however, it followed the announcement made by Minister for Tertiary Education, Skill Development and Education Outreach, Pamela Moses, that the government is not responsible for paying increments demanded by the PWU; payment is the responsibility of the College Council.

Public Workers Union (PWU) members protest nonpayment of increments

The PWU is demanding payment of increments of over $6 million from 2014 when Grenada entered into a three-year Homegrown Structural Adjustment Programme which forced various public sector unions to accept a freeze on increments.

“We know that our increments are a significant amount and if we allow it to continue it will build up more, so we want to ensure that this matter is settled… we have been extremely patient, we cannot be patient anymore,” said President of the PWU, Rachel Roberts.

TAMCC receives an annual subvention from the government of $14 million. It is the responsibility of the College Council to govern the operation of the institution which was established by Act No. 41 of 1996 — the TA Marryshow Community College Act — making the college a fully-fledged educational institution. However, the act was said to have stopped short of allowing the college to have full autonomy over its operations.

Roberts said the subvention received from government is inadequate and cannot support the day to day operations of the college and, since the Government of Grenada regulates the fees at the college which is heavily subsidised, the college is also unable to raise funds needed to cover its expenses, which include the payment of increments to the workers employed by the College Council. “TAMCC doesn’t have the ability to charge the true cost of any programme that a student may undertake at the institution, so therefore, TAMCC is strapped. Their hands are tied and they cannot do anything unless the government supports them.”

Public Workers Union (PWU) members protest nonpayment of increments

At the college are two categories of workers: 35 workers employed through the Public Service Commission (PSC) who are workers on secondment transferred to the college from schools and ministries, and 243 permanent workers employed by the College Council. The workers employed by the College Council are the ones demanding payment of increments since those employed through the PSC retain their status as government employees and are currently benefiting from ongoing negotiations led by the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT).

Minister Moses stated at yesterday’s post-cabinet briefing that it is the responsibility of the College Council through the finance committee to make payments to those categories of workers. The College Council by law has what is known as standing committees…one of which is the finance committee and according to section 11 (2) (e) it states that the finance committee manages the funds of the college and so makes recommendations for its investment thereafter. As such the finance committee through the council if it can find savings and use it to pay increments as it sees fit… and all the council has to do is to inform government of its decision.

In light of this, cabinet has requested that the College Council submit a plan to the government detailing how it plans on paying the $6.1 million in increments.

Thus far the council has selected a sub-finance committee to meet on this matter and then later this week the council will meet with the union in an attempt to resolve the issue,” said Minister Moses.

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Request for Pension Certificate | NOW Grenada

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All government pensioners and ex-gratia recipients and advance payment recipients are reminded that the deadline for submission of Pension Life Certificates for the period 1 January to 30 June 2020 is 31 December 2019.

Pensioners who have not yet submitted their Life Certificates are asked to do so immediately so that their pension payments can be processed.

Kindly ensure that the correct information is included on the Life Certificate and that it is signed and stamped by an Official Certifier: a Justice of the Peace, Medical Practitioner, Minister of Religion, Barrister-at-Law or Permanent Secretary.

Additionally, pensioners who are able to present themselves in person to the Ministry of Finance can have their certificates, certified, by the Permanent Secretary or Deputy Permanent Secretaries, with proper national identification, such as passport, driver’s licence or voter’s registration card.

Pensioners residing in a foreign country are to be attested by a Notary Public, Head of Overseas Mission or Consulate Office of Grenada.

Ministry of Finance

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Grenada not in violation of Vienna Convention on trade and diplomacy

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by Linda Straker

  • Honorary Consuls or Trade Consuls do not have same level of immunity as ambassadors
  • Honorary Consuls conduct diplomacy free of cost to Government of Grenada
  • Grenada is not violating any section of the Vienna Convention on Trade and Diplomacy

Foreign Affairs Minister, Peter David, has explained that Grenada as a small developing state is not engaging in any international misconduct when it appoints citizens to be honorary consuls or trade consuls to represent the island in places where there are no embassies.

Explaining that it’s difficult for the country to operate embassies throughout the world, David in an interview on Friday, said that there are two kinds of diplomat, and those who are appointed as Honorary Consul or Trade Consul do not have the same level of immunity as ambassadors.

“We will appoint someone as Honorary Consul where it does not cost anything to the Government of Grenada and what they do is conduct diplomacy free of cost to us, but in order to conduct that diplomacy they must have a diplomatic passport and some diplomatic position, but that does not guarantee immunity,” David said, pointing out that the Honorary Consul does not get immunity.

“So the issuance of diplomatic passports to honorary consuls, to trade consuls, to all of these persons has nothing to do with the Citizenship By Investment programme (CBI) and it has nothing to do with the government’s sale of anything. It is a matter of them conducting our diplomacy in a way that allows us access to as many countries in the world as possible.” The minister pointed out that a person who gained citizenship through the CBI can be considered for a diplomatic post. “That appointment is not on the base of the CBI programme but on the fact that the person is a citizen of this country and is willing to represent us,” he said, explaining that all persons who become a citizen through the various means available, can represent the country following the necessary due diligence.

A person can gain citizenship through the naturalisation process of up to second and third generations in accordance with the Immigration Act, or purchase it through the CBI programme. The CBI programme provides for an approved applicant to invest in real estate in a country or make the required contribution to the National Transformation Fund.

“So, we have representatives in these countries who are Grenadian citizens regardless of how they acquired the citizenship, but there is no link between CBI and diplomacy,” he said. Minister David is of the belief after research, that the country is not violating any section of the Vienna Convention on Trade and Diplomacy. “We do not believe that we are violating any Vienna convention. Our research does not suggest that the Vienna convention is violated.”

The Vienna Convention on Trade says that consular officers and consular employees have “functional immunity” but do not enjoy the broader “personal immunity” accorded to diplomats as provided for in the Vienna Convention on Diplomacy.

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CXC to focus on catering to students with autism 

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by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada 

  • CXC has identified catering to autistic students as an overlooked area
  • In Grenada, it is believed that 1 in 65 individuals will be diagnosed with autism

The 21st Century classroom should be catering to the needs of autistic students, however, the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) has identified this as an area that was overlooked despite significant strides towards the inclusiveness of people with disabilities.

Newly appointed Registrar/Chief Executive Officer, Dr Wayne Wesley, said this was one of the major takeaways from the 51st Council Meeting of CXC held in Grenada.

Identified by CXC as an issue that must be addressed urgently, Dr Wesley stated that going forward, the barriers autistic learners encounter in accessing opportunities for quality education, and then removing those barriers, will be identified. “The suggestion for us is to begin to investigate how our products can give consideration to [people] who are autistic in writing our examinations. We have taken this on board to either work with the universities of the region to help determine how can we put forward assessment instruments that can be utilised by [people] who are autistic.”

According to the US Centres for Disease Control, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterised by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech, and nonverbal communication, and affects an estimated 1 in 59 children in the United States.

Cristofre Martin, Communications Officer, Autistic Foundation of Grenada, stated there is no not sufficient data to give an accurate number of students with autism, however, it is believed that 1 in 65 individuals will be diagnosed with autism. “There is no definitive answer as far as how many children in Grenada have autism. This is primarily due to a lack of diagnostics here. Our foundation offers what is called ADOS 1 assessments which can make an initial determination if a child falls on the autism spectrum. Definitive diagnosis then can only be obtained off-island sadly. There is no reason to believe that the incidence of autism is different than anywhere else in the world,” he said.

Martin said the move by CXC to cater for students with autism is commendable. “Having CXC consider children with autism and other special needs is one step towards fulfilling the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child for universally accessible to education.”

Dr Wesley admitted that today’s classroom delivery style is similar to that of the 18th Century which lacks certain core competencies like collaboration, digital literacy, critical thinking, and problem-solving to help students thrive in today’s society. “We really need to change how education is currently being delivered. We would have heard from varying sources that are classroom delivery style right now is similar to that of the 18th Century…How do we change how information is delivered and received by participants, both teachers and learners?”

He informed that CXC will no longer just be an examining body, but one that influences teaching learning and assessment, moving towards changing the environment in which people learn. Another CXC mandate is to have the CPEA widely accepted by all countries throughout the region. “Another thing we want to do within the context of what Caricom has been articulating about the Caricom Single Market and Economy is [that] our CPEA should be as popularly accepted as our CSEC programme right across the region. Because if we are serious about the free movement of people across the region, people move with families and families involve children, and children who have to go to school and you have children across varying in age group that will be moving across the region. If we get the CPEA right across the region, we would advance significantly the objective for Caricom to be a single market economy for which all [people] will be able to realise the kind of movement required as we go across the region.”

Another crucial takeaway mentioned by Dr Wesley was the need to reduce the number of students leaving school without minimum competencies. “Right across the region, it is well known that a lot of our students leaving secondary school are actually leaving without the requite minimum competencies required to function in society. So, discussion around our products specifically the Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Level Competence (CCSLC) and the value of the CCSLC. I understand that there are challenges surrounding the CCSLC, but I guess once we begin to position that particular product the right way then people will understand that it is not about the less fortunate or those who cannot really perform, but it is about rescuing the young people of this region and ensure that they are equipped with the requisite minimum competencies,” he said.

To address this matter, Dr Wesley has called for CCSLC to be looked at as a continuum rather than a one-off assessment, to de-emphasise the assessment and begin to emphasise more the process to acquire the requisite learning experiences.

“I think one of the important points that came out is that we should not necessarily look at assessment as the end-all of what we do, but it is really a process, a continuum on which we are allowing persons to experience certain exposure to skills and competencies that they require in order to function in society. And I think we need to de-emphasise the assessment and begin to emphasise more the process that are leading to our students acquiring the requisite learning experiences that we want them to experience,” he said. “We are looking at how do we reposition those products so we can rescue those persons who are leaving school not necessarily being equipped with some level of certification.”

Awards for outstanding performance in the May/June 2019 Examination were presented at the Regional Top Awards Ceremony held during the 51st Council Meeting of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) on Thursday, 5 December 2019.

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