Grenada and Saint Lucia Educators Benefit from U.S. Community College Exchange

Program Director Jeff Milligan welcomes educators from Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Suriname to the Florida State University campus in Tallahassee.

Florida State University (FSU) and Santa Fe College welcomed 20 leaders in vocational and technical education from Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Suriname to the United States to participate in the Community College Administrator Program (CCAP).  The exchange, funded by the U.S. Government, began October 18 with a one-week Executive Dialogue in Florida’s state capital, Tallahassee.  For 15 seminar participants, the program continues until mid-November with visits and conversations with community college administrators throughout the State of Florida.  The Grenada delegation was led by Ministry of Education Permanent Secretary Norman Gilbert and included seven professionals from the Ministry of Education, T.A. Marryshow Community College, Grenada National Training Agency, and New Life Organisation.  The Saint Lucia delegation was led by Ministry of Education Permanent Secretary Michelle Charles and included six professionals from the Ministry of Education and the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College.

“Vocational education and workforce development are topics that feature prominently in bilateral and regional discussions because investing in skills training and education is an investment in our individual and collective futures,” said Anthony Koliha, Director of Global Educational Programs at the U.S. Department of State.

The CCAP improves vocational and technical education at the post-secondary level by bringing college administrators and officials with higher education planning responsibilities to the United States to examine U.S. community college administration.  Participants experience first-hand cutting-edge programs at U.S. community colleges that address local workforce development needs.

Permanent Secretary Norman Gilbert, who returned from the Executive Dialogue earlier this week, explained his enthusiasm for the focus on technical and vocational education and training (TVET).  He said, ““We learned quite a lot, and while the resources we have are different, the lessons from this program can support how we organize and invest in Grenada’s education and skills training.  There were many best practices that can be replicated and adjusted to serve persons in the education sector, especially those interested in TVET education.”  Permanent Secretary Michelle Charles shared her ideas on the impact for Saint Lucia, saying, “Given the priority for the transformation of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College to a University College and our current focus on TVET, this exchange was timely.  It provided us with the opportunity to structure our TVET offerings using a 21st century outlook and better align our programmes and courses with local and global market needs.”

The CCAP professional development seminar focuses on leadership, governance, finance, student affairs and services, diversity and inclusion, program assessment, workforce development, private sector partnerships, community engagement, technology, virtual learning, as well as health, safety and emergency preparedness and response.  CCAP participants also contribute to their U.S. host communities by bringing diverse, global perspectives to U.S. community college campuses and classrooms.

Since 2008, 335 participants from 10 countries have learned about the U.S. community college model and how these institutions partner with business and industry to promote workforce development in their local communities.

FSU program director Jeff Milligan explained how exciting it was to engage Caribbean partners with shared education priorities.  “The Community College Administrators Program both reflects and spotlights the growing recognition internationally of the importance of equipping our citizens with the job skills that support economic development in the 21st century.”