By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, April 11, 2023 – The number of farmers in the Turks and Caicos is not increasing, at least not yet; a startling truth revealed in a recent Magnetic Media interview with Wilhelmina Kissoonsingh, Director of Agriculture.
“Backyard farming is growing in popularity but the number of registered commercial farmers? Not yet. [The split] is equal, male and female but not a lot of young people, very few,” said Kissoonsingh, who led the effort to author a National Agriculture policy for the Turks and Caicos.
It’s a disheartening revelation but also a grand opportunity given the multi-million dollar investment and political will now thrust behind improving food security. In fact, several landmark grants have been issued to farmers with numerous bi-lateral relationships established; including the CARICOM commitment of 2022 and a robust liaison with The Bahamas Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Island Administration.
Unequivocal, if you speak to the leaders in the Department Agriculture and the Ministry of Tourism, also responsible for this area, is the resolve to increase production, expand exports and grow the islands’ No.3 industry.
“We have school gardens now in the school curriculum; we have 16 school gardens.”
In addition, the Government is creating a roadmap to help create actionable targets for the TCI that will help it eventually get to a place of sustainable production. But there’s more to be done, the Director says.
“School gardens are part of the curriculum but agriculture needs to be part of the school curriculum in order for young people to see that agriculture can be a viable career and agriculture can be a viable business to get into.”
Kissoonsingh wants to see the second target hit; investment in farming through programs which must include incentives for those willing to invest in what can be a volatile industry.
“We intend to run a section for Youth; when they see you can get incentives for getting into agriculture it might be something that they’d like to do and the Department would support in terms of technical information and knowledge.”
Semi-Finals of Nat’l Tourism Debate Competition Showcases Insightful Perspectives
The National Tourism Debate Competition reached an enthralling climax as four top high schools competed in the semi-finals, competing for coveted spots in the finals. The collaborative effort led by the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports, and Social Services in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism, received invaluable support from the Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association and the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College (TCICC), along with the Edward C. Gartland Youth Center.
In the first debate, Clement Howell High School and Precious Treasures engaged in a compelling exchange of ideas, deliberating the motion, “This house believes that Human Resource Managers within the accommodations sector should be reserved for Turks and Caicos Islanders.” The thought-provoking discourse showcased the students’ depth of understanding of the topic.
The second debate saw Maranatha Academy and A. Louise Garland High School passionately debate the motion, “This house believes that all-inclusive resorts are not as beneficial as perceived to the local economy of the Turks and Caicos Islands and no new licenses should be issued.” The students’ insightful perspectives and comprehensive analysis of the impact of all-inclusive resorts on the local economy left judges with a challenging task in determining the finalists.
The esteemed judge panel included Michelle Hosten, Head of Tourism Faculty, TCICC, Stacey-Ann W. Albert, TCHTA and Dr. Barbara Ambrister, Chairperson – TCICC. After deliberation Precious Treasures and Maranatha Academy emerged as finalists, having showcased exceptional, intellectual insight of the complex issues within tourism. Mr. Mark Garland, Deputy Director of Education chaired the event and Mr. Brian Been, Tourism Policy Manager was time keeper.
Dr. Barbara Ambrister, Chief Judge, commended the debaters for their preparation, research, and engagement, stating, “The semi-final debates were a testament to the students’ dedication and passion for exploring critical issues within the tourism industry. Their intellectual rigor, and eloquence were truly commendable, setting the stage for an exhilarating final showdown.”
The Hon. Josephine Connolly, Minister of Tourism applauded the students’ understanding and desire to addressing vital issues within the tourism industry. “The semi-final debates showcased their exceptional talent and knowledge and their passion goes well for our islands’ future.”
The Hon. Rachel Taylor, Minister of Education, lauded the participants for their exemplary performance and the organizers for event excellence. “The semi-final debates were a testament to the students’ critical thinking skills and their ability to articulate well-researched arguments. I am confident that the finalists will continue to elevate the level of discourse in the final round.”
As the competition advances to the finals, the excitement continues to build as Precious Treasures and Maranatha Academy prepare to engage in a battle of intellect and persuasion.
TCI Community College gets New Vice Presidents
#TurksandCaicosIslands, February 14, 2024 – Three new vice presidents have been on-boarded at the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College as the institution continues upgrading its services with the end goal of transitioning to a University.
Guided by the 2022 review of the College, the transition in leadership structure was welcomed by the government and college officials.
“Traditionally TCICC operated under a leadership structure that remained largely unchanged since its establishment 29 years ago. It meant a lack of distributed leadership and potential over-reliance on a single individual, ”said Dr Candice Williams, TCICC President.
She maintained that the new executive team was well-placed to spearhead TCICC’s ongoing transition. The new Vice Presidents are:
Dr Delores Stapleton-Harris, Vice President of Academic Vocational and Student Services;
Dr. Shaun McKay, Vice President of Administration and Operation; and
Deranica Allen Williams, Vice President of Finance;
“This is part of a phased approach to transform the college into a university paving the way to an even brighter future– providing an excellent education requires an excellent organization with excellent leadership,” emphasized Rachel Taylor, Minister of Education.
Each employee was afforded an opportunity to speak during the event.
Stapleton-Harris, who holds numerous International Organization for Standardization, ISO certifications, and degrees in higher education leadership and policy said she, was humbled by the trust placed in her.
“I am firmly committed to advancing TCICC and its rebranding efforts to position it as the institution of first choice for education. We will endeavour to provide [students] with a rich and inclusive academic environment–” she continued “I am strongly committed to working with faculty staff and industry providers to ensure our students are equipped with the knowledge skills and equipment they need to succeed in their chosen career.”
McKay who is trained in Community College Leadership, and Business Management gave a message of unity and advancement.
“We will embark upon demanding directions up on each of us as vice presidents,” he said. “Through education comes economic empowerment, which means something different to everyone, but in the Turks and Caicos I want that to mean that we are the number one choice globally, regionally, and internationally.”
Allen-Williams told the gathered stakeholders and media she was committed to the prudent stewardship of resources. Focusing on compliance, maintenance, and improvement of finances.
“My goal is to enhance the financial stability of the college while implementing judicious fiscal practices that enable us to advance while remaining financially sustainable.”
The new positions, revealed via a press conference on January 30th, were legalised by an early 2024 amendment to the ordinance governing the Institution.
It moves the college away from the principal to deputy principal chain of leadership. Instead, the President will be supported by a total of four vice presidents.
The TCICC is also attempting to get accredited, “A significant achievement in our pursuit of excellence is the college’s approval to commence for accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC),” Taylor revealed.
The Minister maintained this, along with ISO certification, was a crucial step in maintaining the quality of Education at TCICC.
Canadian Semester for TCI Community College
#TurksandCaicos#Canada, February 14th, 2024 – Following a tour of nine Canadian Colleges the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College has secured partnerships that will allow its students to take semesters abroad. #TurksandCaicos#Canada
“We have established partnerships with the College of the Rockies, Nova Scotia Community College and New Brunswick Community College to support faculty mobility and student exchange programs,” said Candice Williams, President of the TCICC.
Williams explained that the deals had been struck on a collaborative mission tour, fully sponsored by Global Affairs Canada. The exchange program will be funded through the Emerging Leaders of the Americas Program (ELAP).
“Once selected, eligible students will have the opportunity to attend the chosen Canadian institution for a semester,” Williams said.
For years the Turks and Caicos has struggled with its students choosing to be schooled overseas and eventually settling there, expanding the diaspora but contributing to worker shortages at home.
TCICC has a mandate to make sure the college is the first choice locally, regionally and globally for students. Now the institution is providing an overseas experience that allows residents to study abroad but return home promptly.
ELAP is a program sponsored by the government of Canada which aims to ‘support the development of human capital and the next generation of leaders in the Americas while strengthening the linkages between post-secondary institutions in Canada and the Americas.’
The Turks and Caicos is an eligible country, and having now secured student exchange partnerships that waive tuition, as required by the Canadian government, successful applicants will be flown to Canada for four months.
An $8,200 CA grant will be awarded to participants according to the Canadian government website to help with their expenses.
Williams announced that the administration was also laying the foundation to introduce four year administration courses and nursing courses.
“This strategic initiative reflects our commitment to expanding educational opportunities,” she promised.
Williams was speaking at a January 30th press conference to announce changes to the executive leadership of the college.
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