Letter of the Day | Accreditation is not be-all, end-all
THE EDITOR, Sir:
I refer to The Gleaner article published on UTech programmes on November 4, 2016. I am a newly appointed member of the UTech Council and so I will not comment on the specific issue as it relates to UTech, except to note that The Gleaner seems to have forgotten or missed the full and laudable context of the acting president's comments.
Many years ago, I represented the student body on the then CAST Council, when Dr Sangster was CEO/principal and Professor Leslie Robinson was council chair.
The Gleaner article referred to consistent advice from the University Council of Jamaica (UCJ) to students to check on institution and programme accreditation before enrolment, and implied reminders of defective degrees for holders of degrees before institution and programme accreditation by asserting that retroactivity in accreditation is not possible. My question is, so what?
Do I now claim fee refunds from the doctors and lawyers who all treated me/worked for me, who all graduated from UWI before institutional accreditation? Do I demand they now go back to UWI before I go back to see them? Do I demand that the architects and construction engineers trained by UTech long ago stop working immediately and rob the country of the clear expertise they have? Do we reduce the pay of staffers at the universities and at the UCJ who were taught by graduates of UWI and UTech in unaccredited programmes years back ?
I am a proud graduate of CAST/UTech, and my programme and all the other unaccredited programmes at all other tertiary institutions have served us well, preparing leaders of business, academia and heads of government. We have served our country with these unaccredited qualifications and what we have done with them testify to the quality of the programmes.
This does not mean we must not now use the belated approval system to settle accreditation, but can we at least respect more the great legacy (in its work, its graduates and their contribution) of this institution established since 1958 ?
We are like less-well-off children who long wanted to keep company with our rich neighbours' children, and now that we have grown up and have more means, we clearly feel that a little more understanding in some library books we read late into the night now give us the right to negatively pronounce on the efficacy of the way our parents and households raised us, who/which did the best they could.
Let's all stop the nonsense and come together to support and better fund ALL our public institutions of higher learning and show some better recognition, reward and appreciation for the sacrifice of so many people, past and present. This is neither the time for hubris, recrimination or blame games. For once, let's stop looking for headlines.
I wonder what Edward Gabbidon, the English historian, meant when he said: "Revenge is profitable, gratitude is expensive." Perhaps both Government and society need to all stop being so cheap - in our spend and in our words!
Liguanea, Kingston 6