Mold is not the only prob­lem at Sir Arthur Lewis Com­mu­nity Col­lege!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - By Prof. Anony­mous

The motto of the Sir Arthur Lewis Com­mu­nity Col­lege is “Pur­suit of Ex­cel­lence”. But what hap­pens be­hind the scenes is a long way from ex­cel­lent. Viewed from the out­side, ev­ery­thing seems near per­fect. The Col­lege ap­pears to be go­ing in the right di­rec­tion as far as ed­u­cat­ing the is­land’s youth. And while in the past it has pro­duced some very up­stand­ing cit­i­zens, things are rapidly fall­ing apart.

Be­fore the June 6 elec­tions, the SALCC’s Board of Gover­nors was headed by Ms. For­tuna An­thony. Many felt she ran the in­sti­tu­tion as if she were a prison war­den. It was ei­ther her way or no way at all. Staff were stripped of all au­thor­ity. The prin­ci­pal, Mr. Ur­ban Dolor, was no ex­cep­tion; nei­ther the Hu­man Re­source Man­ager. Their ev­ery de­ci­sion had to be con­firmed by Ms. An­thony. She was not with­out her ac­com­plices. They have suc­ceeded in flush­ing down the toi­let what once was Saint Lu­cia’s lead­ing ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tion.

The Col­lege ac­quired a new prin­ci­pal from the Ba­hamas be­cause the few Saint Lu­cian ap­pli­cants who made it to the in­ter­view stage didn’t quite cut it. Staff were over­joyed fi­nally to have some­one who seemed im­par­tial. But be­fore long she too drank the Kool Aid. The con­sen­sus is that cur­rent Col­lege lead­er­ship is clueless. The less said about the vice prin­ci­pal, a for­mer li­brar­ian, the bet­ter. Eas­ily ruf­fled, she tends to place her per­sonal feel­ings above the needs of the Col­lege.

Ev­ery year, in the Col­lege’s plans, there is al­lo­ca­tion for phys­i­cal works to be done dur­ing the sum­mer. How­ever, for years this has not been the case. En­tire sum­mers go by with very lit­tle at­ten­tion paid to the grounds for the up­com­ing co­hort of stu­dents and staff for the new aca­demic year. The con­se­quences on the Col­lege com­mu­nity have been aw­ful. Ev­ery sin­gle build­ing on cam­pus is plagued with mold and/or ter­mites. Staff and stu­dents have been fall­ing ill; com­plain­ing about one short­com­ing or an­other.

Only now, at this crit­i­cal stage, do we see des­per­ate at­tempts at mak­ing im­prove­ments. Had the build­ings been prop­erly main­tained on a yearly ba­sis, the cur­rent state of af­fairs would have been avoided. Some build­ings are cur­rently con­demned or closed: the Vic­tor Archer Build­ing that housed the A-Level divi­sion; the li­brary which is a cesspool for ev­ery­thing un­healthy; the Teacher Ed build­ing. This brings us to the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion: some di­vi­sions of the Col­lege have to be tem­po­rar­ily re­lo­cated to Ge­orge Charles Se­condary School, al­legedly to per­mit cer­tain works. At present, staff of Divi­sion of Teacher Ed­u­ca­tion and Ed­u­ca­tional Ad­min­is­tra­tion, In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy Ser­vices Depart­ment and the Hunter J François Li­brary are mis­placed be­cause of the above is­sues. SALCC is toxic!

The Col­lege sits and lit­er­ally waits for some Good Samaritan to say, “Here’s a check for a mil­lion dol­lars.” Man­age­ment re­fuses to seek fund­ing to main­tain the Col­lege but con­stantly gripes about sub­ven­tion cuts. It at­tempted to have fund-rais­ing events not too long ago but no one seems to know the out­come. Spec­u­la­tion is rife. Ideas from staff and stu­dents are sum­mar­ily dis­missed, ev­i­dently be­cause they did not come from the right place.

Even af­ter staff have had to en­dure th­ese hor­ri­ble con­di­tions, while most lo­cal busi­nesses were cel­e­brat­ing their year’s achieve­ments with staff awards and staff par­ties, SALCC staff could only look on and dream. There is no ap­pre­ci­a­tion for Col­lege staff. Man­age­ment seems un­both­ered! Staff com­ing home from get­ting their de­grees are re­turned to their old po­si­tions - with no salary in­creases, no pro­mo­tions.

Stu­dents are fed up. They pay for fa­cil­i­ties they do not en­joy: no space avail­able for classes; poor air qual­ity in build­ings; lack of furniture; no place on cam­pus to pur­chase sta­tionery; study ar­eas are com­pro­mised. Stu­dents are left lit­tle choice but to protest pub­licly. Tem­po­rary fixes are some­times un­der­taken but the core prob­lems con­tinue. It’s like plac­ing Band-aid on jugu­lar wounds.

Mismanagement is de­stroy­ing the once sought af­ter place to be em­ployed and get an ed­u­ca­tion. Those in po­si­tions to as­sist ap­pear to have other in­ter­ests, mostly per­sonal. The last prin­ci­pal who re­ally made a great ef­fort to push the Col­lege for­ward, to go out and find fund­ing, who demon­strated con­cern for staff and stu­dent wel­fare was Dr Bev­erly Lan­siquot. With a new govern­ment in of­fice, we are pa­tiently await­ing the new Board of Gover­nors. We pray Dr Gale Rigob­ert will pro­vide soon the medicine the Col­lege so badly needs at this time!

Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Dr. Gale Rigob­ert: Can she pro­vide the de­manded panacea for all that ails the SALCC? By all ac­counts mold is not the in­sti­tu­tion’s only health haz­ard!

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