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Caribbean & World

Teacher opts for island ‘summer school’



Andrew Campbell posed last month at Grand Anse beach, a five-minute walk from his housing in Grenada. Campbell, a teacher at Major Ballachey School, was part of a group that worked with Grenadian teachers to share resources.

jpg, BR

As soon as Major Ballachey teacher Andrew Campbell put away his books and school supplies at the end of June, he took them up again in a world almost 4,000 kilometres away.

Campbell was one of about 60 Canadian teachers selected for Project Overseas and one of five sent to the Caribbean island of Grenada where he and his colleagues participated in professional learning workshops with Grenadian teachers.

“We learned very quickly that things there are very different,” said Campbell.

“We had teachers in the program who had been high school students in June and are going to be teaching this year in September because you don’t have to have a degree to be a teacher in Grenada.”

That leaves both fresh and seasoned teachers hungry for education and resources on the beautiful island.

“The time they spent with us is the only professional development time they have. Those who attend the program are clear that teachers talk about it for years to come.”

The Canadian Teachers’ Federation has been running Project Overseas for decades in partnership with other teacher federations and those in the host countries.

Campbell was off to Ottawa at the beginning of July to take part in training with about 60 other teachers who were to be scattered across the globe during the month, helping to improve public education in developing countries.

Some of the topics covered range from reading and math to gender equity and developing leaders in and out of the classroom.

“I’ve always been really passionate about public education and I love to travel,” said Campbell. “I spent some time teaching in Kuwait but came back home because of young kids. Now that my kids are semi-launched, it provided me the opportunity to go back out again.”

Campbell applied for the highly competitive program last year but didn’t make it. He was finally selected this year.

While the difference between a Canadian and a Grenadian classroom may be vast, Campbell said his team of five and the 120 local teachers immediately bonded over similarities.

“My first day in a class with 20 other teachers from Grenada, no one knowing each other or talking much and then one asked ‘In Ontario, what’s your policy about homework?’ and suddenly, organically, we were in a big discussion about whether kids should do homework and how much homework. The fact we were from different countries melted away.

“We were just teachers and that felt huge to me professionally. It was a realization there’s much more that we have in common than our differences.”

Campbell also found almost everyone he spoke to was a Toronto Raptors fan and most have relatives living in Canada.

“It made me think of Major Ballachey where we have children who are Syrian refugees and how problems from thousands of miles away come into our schools very quickly. The students in Grenada today could be in my classroom tomorrow.”

During off hours, Campbell couldn’t get enough of the nearby Grand Anse beach, a pristine yet busy place to walk, swim, look at starfish and “meet the incredibly friendly people of Grenada.”

Once his responsibilities to Project Overseas were done, Campbell capped off his visit with a boat trip inspired by a former student: he travelled along the Grenadines to St. Vincent at the other end of the chain of islands.

“It was a special moment for me.”

Campbell returned to Canada ready to teach both co-teachers and students his most important lesson – the position of privilege Canadians hold.

“The physical resources we have access to are far above what they have. I came back with hundreds of pictures and want to share with my students about a place where classrooms have a concrete floor and no real blackboards or projectors. We need to appreciate what we have because we’re incredibly rich.”


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Caribbean & World

All medication for USNS Comfort clinics is FDA approved




by Linda Straker

  • Medication used at free clinics is approved by Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • FDA is the US Federal agency responsible for protecting the public health
  • More than 40,000 persons have received clinic services and more than 600 surgeries performed

Patrick Amerbach, Chief Medical Officer onboard the US Naval Ship Comfort which will be in Grenada until 20 September, has assured that all medication used at the free clinics is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“Everything we are using here is FDA approved. Everything that we do here is of a quality standard as done in the US healthcare system,” Amerbach said on Sunday following the opening ceremony to welcome the hospital ship to the island.

The FDA is the US Federal agency responsible for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices as well as ensuring the safety of food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation.

The ship with its 956 medical staff is on a five-month multinational medical assistance mission and at its completion will have made 14 port calls in 12 countries throughout South and Central America and the Caribbean, including the three OECS territories of Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Saint Kitts.

Besides the surgeries that will be done onboard the ship, doctors from the ship will be holding daily clinics at the National Stadium and at the Grenada Trade Centre. They will be offering healthcare in several areas including wound care, urology, orthopaedic, eye care and general surgery.

Acting Health Minister, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell described the initiatives as one that will have a powerful positive effect on the healthcare system and at the same time strengthen the relationship between the countries who will benefit and the USA.

“This initiative is a very strong partnership for the people of the region. The impact of this initiative is something that Grenadians will feel for a long time,” he said as he welcomed the US delegation, the ship and the crew members.

Acting Health Minister, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell speaks during the welcoming ceremony for the USNS Comfort

Referring to social media fearmongering that the USNS Comfort will be engaging in clinical research without permission from patients, Dr Mitchell said that people are always sceptic about certain initiatives, but he is satisfied that the services onboard the ship is of a high acceptable medical standard. “If I did not recently do my own medical check-up, I will certainly do it now,” he said, encouraging Grenadians to take advantage of the opportunity.

Linda Taglialatela, US Ambassador to the OECS described the initiative as a celebration. “Today we celebrate the strength of our relationship,” she said, disclosing that thousands of persons in the region have received the services of the ship.

Ship’s Captain Brian J Diebold said that more than 40,000 persons have received services at the clinics and there were more than 600 surgeries, with gall bladder and cataract as the most common.

Dr George Mitchell, Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health said that the services from the ship are providing an opportunity for many who were seeking simple surgery, to receive it at a quicker time. “Citizens sometimes have to wait months to get the service at the hospital,” he said without naming specific medical surgeries.

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Caribbean & World

Public workers to vote for new First Vice President in special election




by Linda Straker

  • Devon Francis resigned as 1st Vice President on 18 June
  • Public Workers Union will be voting in a special election on Wednesday, 18 September
  • Approximately 3,000 public workers are qualified to vote

The membership of the Public Workers Union (PWU) will be voting in a special election on Wednesday, 18 September because a member of the executive council who was elected during the March 2019 Annual General Meeting has resigned.

Daisy Hazzard, Public Relations Officer for the union said that Devon Francis who was elected to serve as the 1st Vice President resigned from the post as of 18 June 2019. “Therefore, this special meeting and election, which is in accordance with the union’s constitution, is to fill the post which is now vacant,” she said. She explained that Francis, who is a medical doctor by profession, had given “personal matters” as his reason for resigning after serving for less than four months.

Approximately 3,000 public workers are qualified to vote in the election which will be held at the union’s headquarters in Tanteen. Nomination will be done on the day of the special meeting and the person elected will serve for the period 2019 – 2021.

Hazzard also confirmed that since the new executive was elected, several shop stewards have resigned. “That we have dealt with internally as an executive council, but we must come back to the general membership to fill the vacant executive council post. There is no other option,” she said.

In March, Rachel Roberts was re-elected to serve as the union’s president for the period 2019 – 2021. Most of the other members elected to that executive had openly campaigned for another person to serve as president.

It is understood that Roberts and her executive members are not always in agreement about making decisions that are in the best interest of union and its members, and as a result, there is growing uneasiness among the executive.

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Caribbean & World

Grenada Cabinet to implement new cabinet procedure




by Linda Straker

  • New cabinet procedures to be implemented as part of public sector reform project
  • Manual approved by cabinet in June 2019

As part of the public sector reform project, Grenada’s cabinet will be implementing new cabinet procedures which, among other things, will make the weekly meeting of the cabinet of ministers more strategic with less time on routine matters.

“This manual allows more time for in-depth discussion and how to focus on major priorities,” Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell told participants during the first training workshop which exposed ministers of government, permanent secretaries and other senior public officers to the templates of the manual.

Dr Mitchell said that one of the shortcomings identified is following up of decisions made by the Cabinet of Ministers, but the implementation of the new procedures is expected to not only reduce the problem but to make it a thing of the past.

“Sometimes decisions are made and when you ask for a follow up there is a fight to find out the state of it,” the Prime Minister said, explaining that the new procedure will include a summary of an implementation plan, because many times decisions are made and implementation plans are not included. “Hopefully this manual will make a stronger cabinet secretariat which is the oxygen where cabinet decisions are made,” he said, promising to ensure a stronger secretariat.

Head of the Cabinet Secretariat, Beryl Isaac, told the participants that they should see the new procedures as the secretariat bible. “Not implementing the manual is not an option, this manual has to be our bible,” she said, reminding them that different results will not be achieved if the same format is continually used. “If we want to see a different result, we must do things differently,” she said.

Besides providing for less time on routine discussion, the main feature of the manual which was approved by cabinet in June 2019, includes a new process for proposed legislation with policy objectives and main features agreed by cabinet before laws are drafted. It revises the submission template and provides a summary implementation plan for all complex proposals.

It also provides for more consultation between ministries in preparing proposals for cabinet; more explicit engagement with local and international partners in developing policy proposals and a stronger cabinet office to better support ministers to comply with the procedures in the manual.

The new procedures were developed following a review of Grenada’s cabinet processes by Dr Mark Johnston, an experienced cabinet advisor from the World Bank. The cabinet secretariat will hold other workshops during September and October, before a date of effect is announced for implementing the new procedures.

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