St Vincent and the Grenadines: Making education resilient through Hurricane Beryl

Reading Time: 5 min read

The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) values its partners. In celebrating partners’ impact at the national and institutional levels regarding access to quality online teaching and learning, COL pauses to reflect on and share the outcomes of a sustainable initiative – St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College (SVGCC) capacity-building project. At its launch in early 2023, Prime Minister, the Honourable Dr Ralph Gonsalves described COL as “an institution of solidarity” for its transformative role in helping to realise the government’s strategic plan of having one graduate per household by 2030. This collaboration signals a positive educational change of inclusiveness, agility, and access for a small state of the Commonwealth, St Vincent and the Grenadines, made attainable through e-learning.

To date, with 32 faculty trained by COL in designing and teaching online and blended courses, and with over 30 online courses now on offer in its degree specialisations in the arts, science, and general studies, SVGCC’s enrolment figure has increased to over 310 online students. As a result of these transformations in ODL, the experiences of students, staff and faculty have been overwhelmingly positive.

COL has also trained five faculty leads at SVGCC to continue to support onboarding initiatives for new or inexperienced staff to transition their courses to online and distance learning. Another pertinent benefit of making education provision more flexible for lecturers, instructors and learners was realised in the destructive aftermath of Hurricane Beryl. Despite the recent natural disaster experienced by the Islands, the Teacher Education Division at SVGCC continued to offer online classes to students in the summer cohort. Given these benefits of online and blended learning increasing students’ access to quality education within St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Nigel Scott, SVGCC’s Director, affirms the comprehensive approach and practical application of COL’s training of staff to deliver online courses for students to improve their self-directed learning skills, digital literacy and soft skills.

SVGCC is also keeping pace with the global evolution of online and blended learning.  By technologically enabling its programmes and courses and training its faculty to infuse quality in online and blended learning effectively, SVGCC now innovates, networks, and collaborates through the partnership of COL to bolster institutional capacity. This, in turn, has translated into improvements in the online learner experiences, access, equity, and learner engagement.

Dr Schontal Moore, COL Adviser of the Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC), lauds SVGCC for its innovative and collaborative approach and says there is a clear indication of the positive impact of this partnership and the potential for further growth and innovation in the field of online education.

She also notes that COL remains relevant and ready to continue operationalising its mandate of partnering with ministries and their agencies, professional bodies, and civil society to create a unique platform for small states to collaborate and become leaders in building sustainable capacity in open, distance and technology-based approaches for quality learning opportunities and growth.

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