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Grenada heads to South Korea for International Brain Bee Championship

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Grenada’s National Brain Bee Champion Jevonie Thomas is heading to South Korea to compete for the Brain Bee World Championship title.

Thomas, an extremely bright 15-year-old who attends the J W Fletcher Catholic Secondary School, placed second in last year’s International Brain Bee, missing-out on the title by just one point. He was very upbeat as he and his coach, science teacher, Erin John, prepared him to engage in a battle of the brains for the 2019 title.

CIBC FirstCaribbean’s Sasha Matthews and Gale Blackett, Grenada National Brain Bee coordinator

“It can be a challenge preparing for the Brain Bee and keeping on top of my normal studies, as it can become all-consuming,” he said. “Before my science teacher entered me in the local competition the only thing I knew about the brain was that it is pink and in your skull! Now I’m determined to do my best and bring home the title,” he added.

He said taking part in the competition has given him a “number of treasured opportunities, one of them is travelling to different parts of the world and getting to meet with other young persons and understanding their motivation for being involved in the Brain Bee and how they see this shaping their futures.”

Before he departed for the finals which take place from 19-23 September, Thomas encouraged his supportive classmates to strive for excellence at all times. He also said that he would love to see others join the Brain Bee and eventually take his place in representing Grenada. The Grenada National Brain Bee commences in September each year.

JW Fletcher Catholic Secondary School Science Teacher, Erin John, receives sponsorship from CIBC FirstCaribbean to assist with expenses for Brain Bee in South Korea

The International Brain Bee competition started in 1998, its mission is to build better brains to fight brain disorders. This neuroscience competition for teenagers, from 14-18 years, challenges them to study and understand the brain and its reactions in both good health and when diseased.

Dr Norbert Myslinski, founder of the competition, felt this was a perfect forum in which to grow and nurture future generations of specialist researchers, neurologists and others by creating a forum in which to inspire and motivate young men and women to pursue careers in basic and clinical neuroscience.

For the 2019 finals, 30 countries will be represented in South Korea, making it no small feat for Grenada, the only Caribbean country to be represented at the Brain Bee World Championship.

Thomas and his school received a boost to their fundraising efforts for the trip from CIBC FirstCaribbean. The bank’s Country Manager Nigel Ollivierre said the bank was “very pleased to support both Jevonie and JW Fletcher Catholic Secondary School in raising the funds to go to the finals, and the Grenada National Brain Bee in their quest to push forward and grow the competition at a local level.” He said, “Such intense efforts to educate our nation’s youth and to encourage them to aspire to the highest levels of achievement deserve our support. The holistic experience, not only in the pursuit of academic excellence but also the lessons which can be learned from competing, collaborating and interacting with other motivated high achievers, both at home and abroad, have to make this a rewarding experience for all who have taken up the challenge.”

CIBC FirstCaribbean

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Two new libraries opened in one day in St Patrick

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Two brand new school libraries have been opened in St Patrick by GND Schools Inc., (GSI). St Patrick’s Anglican and St Patrick’s RC schools were the recent recipients of the libraries, which were both officially opened on 1 November 2019.

The launch of these two school libraries marked the climax of a one-week visit to Grenada from GND Schools Inc.’s main donors Michael and Melanie Sherwood, who were accompanied by overseas trustees Michael and Marianne De Giorgio and Bracebridge and Landis Young.

The group travelled to Grenada for the annual Donors and Trustees Meeting and to see first-hand the immense progress made over the past year by the organisation.

(L-R) Leo Garbutt, Local Trustee at GND Schools Inc.; Leolyn Christopher, District Education Officer; Andrea Phillip, Chief Executive Officer at GND Schools Inc.; Major Donors Melanie and Michael Sherwood; Anthony Boatswain, Parliamentary Representative for St Patrick West; Lyden Ramdhanny, Local Trustee at GND Schools Inc.; Marianne and Michael De Giorgio, Overseas Trustees at GND Schools Inc.; Rodney Julien Principal of St Patrick’s RC School.

To date, GND Schools Inc., through the generosity of its donors, have spent some $8.6 million on literacy development at the primary school level. Of that amount, approximately EC$355,000 has been spent to retrofit and equip libraries in four of the six primary schools in St Patrick.

GSI libraries upgrades include new ceilings, windows, lights and fans, comfortable modern furniture and new book collections. St Patrick’s Anglican and RC schools each received over 900 books.

Speaking at the official handing-over ceremony, Principals Wilma Alexander of St Patrick’s Anglican and Rodney Julien of neighbouring St Patrick’s RC School, both expressed sincere thanks to GND Schools Inc. for the gifts of the new libraries. “We salute you for partnering with us to add yet another important amenity to help improve the quality of education that is provided at our school. You have certainly seen the need to improve the literacy competencies among our students,” said Principal Wilma Alexander, St Patrick’s Anglican School.

Inside the new St Patrick’s RC School Library

Present at the library launch ceremonies were government representatives including Minister in the Ministry of Education, Hon. Pamela Moses; District Education Officer, Leolyn Christopher and Parliamentary Representative for St Patrick West, Anthony Boatswain. Also present were GND Schools Inc. local trustees Leo Garbutt and Lyden Ramdhanny.

GND Schools Inc. has opened a total of 25 new public, primary school libraries since the inception of its literacy development project in 2014. The project is part of GND Schools Inc. “B.I.G. Vision” of Building Libraries, Increasing Educational Achievement and Growing Learners.

The organisation has been doing so through funding from its main donors, Michael and Melanie Sherwood and in collaboration with the Government of Grenada, through the Ministry of Education, Human Resource Development and Religious Affairs. GSI has taken a multi-pronged approach to literacy development in primary schools with focus on Library Construction and Renovation; Library Management and Activities Training; Curriculum Support and Training and Book Publishing.

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Government awaits plan to resolve TAMCC industrial impasse

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by Linda Straker

  • Trade union representatives on College Council recused themselves from emergency meeting
  • Meeting objective was to decide on resolution for industrial protest

While government awaits the plan to solve the industrial impasse at the TA Marryshow College (TAMCC), the two trade union representatives on the College Council recused themselves from the emergency meeting called on Tuesday, 12 November.

The objective of the meeting was to decide on a resolution for the industrial protest being undertaken by workers at the education institution who are employed by the council.

As of last week Thursday, the workers led by union leaders have undertaken midday protests demanding that their increment be paid. Public employees typically receive annual raises based on salary increments.

“Yes, we did recuse ourselves from the meeting to avoid any conflict of interest,” said Lydon Lewis of the Grenada Union of Teachers. Rachel Roberts who also sits on the council representing the Public Workers Union also left the meeting. Both representatives left the meeting when the subject of the increment was the topic of discussion.

Interim Chairman of the council, Augustine Vesprey said that the meeting was to come up with a plan for submission to government by identifying the possible resolution to the ongoing industrial impasse. “That plan was not finalised at Tuesday’s meeting, we are still working on it,” he said on Wednesday.

The workers are demanding they are paid increments for the period 2014 to 2018 totalling EC$6.1 million. The council is unable to pay despite receiving an increase in subvention in 2018. The college, up to 2017 received EC$12 million in subvention but it was increased in 2018 to EC$14.9 million.

Most of the money is used to pay staff monthly salaries.

In sharing some light on the matter, Pamela Moses, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skill Development & Education Outreach said in Tuesday’s post-cabinet briefing that the present impasse is a matter between the council and workers because the college is a statutory body.

“The plan will determine how government can assist in bringing the impasse to an end,” Moses said on Wednesday when asked if government will provide a bail-in for the college.

If the council decides to increase tuition fees at the college it must first be approved by government.

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PWU not legally authorised to be represented on TAMCC Council

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by Linda Straker

  • Public Workers Union representative on TA Marryshow Council appears to be an accommodation
  • Justification was for PWU represented workers on to have a voice on the council

Legal research is showing that the Public Workers Union (PWU) representative on the TA Marryshow Council appears to be an accommodation for the union to have representation, and not a mandate in accordance with the legislation which established the setting up of the college.

Pamela Moses, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skill Development & Education Outreach has confirmed that the anomaly has been identified and a legal solution is in the making. “This is something we have identified and whereas justification was provided for the accommodation, not now but a long time ago, nothing was done. We will take the necessary steps to resolve that irregularity on the council moving forward.”

Moses said she learnt that the justification to accommodate the PWU was for the workers who are represented by that union to have a voice on the council. “So yes, it’s true the union is not named in the legislation but it is represented on the council,” she said.

Rachel Roberts, the President of the Public Workers Union is sitting on the council representing the workers employed by the council. The TA Marryshow Community College Act which was approved in 1996 and had some amendments in 2009, only provides for two representatives from the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT).

More than 200 persons working at the college are employed by the council and are represented by the PWU, while others are represented by the GUT. Former council members have confirmed that before Roberts, former presidents Adrian Francis and Madonna Harford also represented the PWU workers on the council. The irregularity was also known to these former council members.

Two former chairmen of the council have confirmed that the accommodation for the PWU is something that has been questioned by former and current council members. “We reviewed the TAMCC Act and also the amendment in 2009 but we could not find any legal amendment. We understand the spirit of the decision but it’s not in the keeping with the letter of the law,” said a former council member.

According to the legislation which converted the education institution into a statutory body, the Constitution of the Council shall be appointed after the Minister has a consultation with the Education Advisory Board and the various bodies specified in the legislation.

The council which shall consist of the following persons two of whom the Minister shall designate as Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson, respectively:

  1. two representatives of the Grenada Union of Teachers;
  2. three persons to represent the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the tourism sector and the agricultural sector;
  3. one representative of the Principals Association of Secondary Schools;
  4. one representative of the student body of the College;
  5. one representative of the Grenada Institute of Professional Engineers;
  6. two persons appointed by the Minister;
  7. the Principal, ex officio; and
  8. the Chief Education Officer, ex officio.

The Registrar shall be the Secretary of the Council but without the right to vote at meetings of the council.

The current council members most of which were appointed or re-appointed in August 2019 are:

  • Augustine Vesprey
  • Lincoln Morgan
  • Dr Jeffery Britton
  • Rachel Roberts
  • Lydon Lewis
  • Dunstan Campbell
  • Mark Kitchen
  • Dominic Jeremiah
  • Jason Williams
  • Angella Finlay
  • Roshm Abraham
  • Marva Bowen-Neptune

The workers of TAMCC have been engaging in daily industrial protest over the council’s inability to pay increments dating back to 2014 and tallying beyond EC$6 million.

As it is a statutory body, government is not involved in the daily operations and management of the college which as off2018 had an increase in subvention to $14.9 million from the EC$12 million which falls under the expenditure of the Ministry of Education.

Moses said that a plan has since be requested from the council for government to know how the council plans to resolve the issue. Statutory rules do provide for the relevant ministry through the Ministry of Finance to provide a bail-in. The government can also give approval to increase tuition fees so that the college can have an increase in revenue.

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