VUSSC/Mauritius BC/News/Evans

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St. Vincent & the Grenadines

The development of Open learning and e learning material is very important to small island states like St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is currently struggling with the new policies regarding the sale of bananas in Europe. As a result, many small farmers have discontinued planting as they cannot keep up with the demands and requirements - GAP Standards, Fair trade, etc.

The base of our economy is no longer bananas, the government has indicated that we can no longer rely on the Agricultural Sector as our main income generator. We have now to move to the Service Sector to provide that income.

Additionally, there is the move to make the Caribbean a single economic area - The CSME - Caricom Single Market Economy. There is to be free movement of skills across the region. As a result, there is need for a means of Certification for those persons who are not certified but have specific skills. This certification is required as persons will now be free to move from territory to territory. Institutions can now provide content material to learners through online means as the learners seek to upgrade themselves for certificaion purposes and/or develop new skills or employment.

The delivery of online courses can be one means of reaching these persons who may want to get some form of certificaion; but may not be able to attend an institution full time or even part time, but can access the courses from a pc at home or elsewhere in their communities.

The Government has already built several Learning Resource Centres in many areas of the state. These are equipped with computers and many already have internet access. All schools are also receiving computers, through the efforts of the government and several non-governmental organisations.

We are a plural state, in that, we have several small islands and access to educational institutions may not always be easy for all those who may want to continue their education or simply to get more information to start a small Business or to become a Tour Guide. The areas selected for this workshop are quite apt to the existing situation.

This Workshop, here in Mauritius, is an excellent start of a facility that is so relevant to the needs of small states. I wish to thank the sponsors of this workshop and the initiators of the idea of opening learning and free content for their contributions and dedication; and to those who will sponsor the continued development of this initiative, I say thank you - this is very important, it will bear fruit, let us work together. To the participants, I hope we will be able to keep in touch with each other as we try to get others involved in the idea of open learing and free content. It hard work, we all know, but it will pay off.

I look forward to the time when several content areas are offered.

Thanks, Cheryl Evans