STATEMENT BY THE
MINISTER FOR EDUCATION & CULTURE –
HONOURABLE MYRON V. WALWYN
at the Second Sitting of the Second Session of the Third House of Assembly
October 13, 2016
Participation in the Eastern Caribbean Institute of Tourism
“As the sailing capital of the world and the vibrant marine sector we have, developing expertise in the maritime/yachting sector becomes critical to the further development of that area for this economy”
Madam Speaker thank you for the opportunity to update this Honourable House on an initiative on which the H Lavity Stoutt Community College is about to embark. It is nothing new to hear about the development of Centres of Excellence around the region. In fact Madam Speaker, it was an initiative for the development of such a facility that the Marine Studies Centre at the College was built. However Madam Speaker, that initiative was not fully realised and programmes in the area never fully materialized.
I gave the College’s Board a mandate to be more proactive and to develop programmes which will not only help this community but also become programmes which will attract others to come to the Territory as this is crucial for the development of the college.
While they have been working on various initiatives Madam Speaker, the OECS Secretariat with EU funding has taken the idea of the Centre of Excellence forward again with the intention of focusing on the area of tourism. The aim is to enhance the global competitiveness of the OECS tourism sector via competency improvements in the sector’s workforce.
Madam Speaker a decision was taken in the early discussions for the Virgin Islands to be the Centre for Baking and Pastry. While we have several great pastry chefs in the Virgin Islands, I did not think that this was a substantial enough sector that best utilized the offerings of the Territory as well as the opportunity that was needed for our community.
I communicated this directly with the OECS that we wanted to offer an alternative suggestion. Considering the history of the Virgin Islands, opportunities for programme development, skills building, exposure and marketing, we submitted a proposal for our Centre of Excellence to be Marine Management, Boat Repairs and Maintenance. As the sailing capital of the world and the vibrant marine sector we have, developing expertise in the maritime/yachting sector becomes critical to the further development of that area for this economy. Other countries are also interested in gaining expertise in this field.
Madam Speaker we anticipate having a full response concurring with this proposal by the end of November from the Eastern Caribbean Institute of Tourism (ECIT) Implementation Task Force and then to receive the necessary funding to provide equipment, the development of an IT room for online training and development of curricula.
When we hear the cry of the marine sector and the failure to find persons proficient in fixing the engines of the many boats that pass through our waters, finding enough certified captains for taking boats out among other things, I think we are well placed in having this as our niche area.
Madam Speaker we are not discounting Baking and Pastry and have in fact indicated that we are willing to carry both areas here in the Virgin Islands and are willing to accept those from across the region who may be interested in both fields. However, Madam Speaker it is important that we capitalize on such an opportunity to improve this area of our tourism sector as we cater to those wanting to sail in our beautiful waters, while providing the learning opportunity for our citizens to easily gain access to courses to support the maintenance and management of our marine sector. As soon as all the discussions are finalized the Memorandum of Understanding with the Eastern Caribbean Institute of Tourism will be taken to Cabinet and a further update will be given to this Honourable House
Thank you Madam Speaker.