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BCC needs more money

ALEX DOWNES, [email protected]

BCC needs more money

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Despite experiencing financial hard times, the Barbados Community College (BCC) is increasing its numbers.

At last Saturday’s graduation held at the Gymnasium of the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex, 1 019 students were conferred degrees of various levels, a marked increase from last year’s 975.

Additionally, its enrolment is now 3 697, up from 3 491 last year.

Chairman of the board of management Stephen Broome revealed that of those graduating, there were 16 post graduates degrees, 86 bachelor degrees, 688 associate degrees, 95 diplomas and 134 certificates.

This year’s valedictorian was Antigua and Barbudan-born Malique Marsh, who graduated from the theatre arts programme.

While he was not eligible for a Barbados Scholarship, the campus still recorded two Exhibition winners in Cara Cumberbatch and Brittany Gibbons.

Principal Cheryl Weekes commended both students and staff on the good work they had done. However, she turned her attention to Government as she called for greater funding for the 49-year-old institution.

“Your success here this evening, despite limited funding, is testimony to the hard work of the dedicated staff who have learned the art of making bricks out of straw and producing well-educated persons on an annual basis,” she said.

“I want to say, however, that we would be able to do significantly more if only our funding was increased. I therefore take this opportunity to appeal for greater funding in the next financial year.”

These calls were not dissimilar to the sentiments Broome and former principal Dr Gladstone Best at the 2014 graduation when they noted the college was underfunded.

Broome had said substantial new funding had to be found for the BCC to improve its built environment and other non-physical areas. Best said under-funding over several years had resulted in the deterioration of the physical plant – a situation which urgently needed to be addressed.

On Saturday, Broome explained that work had begun on its infrastructure towards the theme of the 44th graduation ceremony: Sustaining Quality, Expanding Borders.

In the last year, he said, BCC spent over $2 million on various aspects of the Eyrie campus and the hospitality institute. They were expected to spend $1.1 million in the coming year to upgrade the gym and other facilities.

Minister of Education Ronald Jones, who also spoke at the graduation, responded: “We want more of everything because we want to give more of everything. And I could appreciate that, wanting more to give more. But how do we survive if there is no more? Making bricks from straw is a reality.”

He added that over the years he had lobbied the minister of finance for the BCC to receive more money, but those pleas had borne no fruit thus far.

Jones suggested that the means to generate more funding could perhaps be found within the college. (AD)