‘Internet costs killing us!’
The Catholic College of Mandeville says it is hoping to get much-needed assistance to cut costs associated with Internet access and a slight decrease in enrolment, as a result of the ravishes to the economy brought on by the pandemic.
Principal of the college, Diana Davis-Smith, revealed that the costs associated with operating a private institution have always been a challenge. However, it has now worsened, she said.
“We are owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Mandeville. We are facing in a worse position than the likes of UTech (The University of Technology) or UWI (The University of the West Indies) that gets funding from Government; or even other teacher-training institutions that belong to the Joint Board of Teacher Education. They, too, get some financial support from the Government. We don’t, so it is harder on us.”
Davis-Smith said, among the heavy financial obligations of the institution is an Internet bill that costs over $300,000 monthly.
“Internet costs are killing us and I wish the Universal Service Fund (USF) would have our location designated as a public access service, so we don’t have to pay the whopping amounts that we pay on a monthly basis. I have long approached them and we continue to wait …”
USF is an agency under the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology, mandated to ensure that access to Internet/information developments are facilitated.
“Since the pandemic, we have students from other institutions in the community observe the protocols and use our Internet and computer labs, because they don’t have the resources at home.”
Davis-Smith said, while the students at the institution are offered payment plans to continue their studies, the institution is hoping that the Ministry of Education will assist, as the resources of the diocese, from which they get assistance, are drying up.
“We recognise that we are here to provide opportunities for people who need it and so we do with whatever funding we are able to identify from sponsorship or grant allowances. The diocese provides some support to persons within the region,” she said.
“I envision that the economic fallout will continue across the nation, but that the Government will give us the support they are considering for us at this point in time,” she added.
Hoping that a wide offering of undergraduate and graduate programmes, in collaboration with an international university, will augur well for them and increase enrolment, Davis-Smith said the school remains resilient in the midst of adversity.
“Despite the challenges, the students, faculty and staff remain committed to ensuring their continued learning, and more so in this time than ever before. I am happy that we had started our online learning long before COVID, so it was a smooth transition for us for full online learning. We are expanding our offerings and we are looking for greater things for the next two terms,” she said.