November 17 -19, 2010
The value of education can never be understated. Education is not a privilege but is the right of every individual, thus the major stakeholder in the education system is its students. On November 17th, 2010 a historic roundtable was convened in Georgetown, Guyana under the auspices of the Commonwealth Youth Programme Caribbean Centre in collaboration with the University of Guyana. The sitting was a consultation of young student leaders of tertiary institutions across the Commonwealth Caribbean, with a special invitation being extended to Suriname because their youth participation structures are a CARICOM-recommended model of excellence. The Round Table met to assess the common needs and development aspirations of this demographic and explore mechanisms for better networking and advocacy.
Representation came from eleven (11) tertiary institutions namely the University of Guyana, University of the West Indies, Mona and St. Augustine Campuses, University of Trinidad & Tobago, University of Belize, St. George’s University, Montserrat Community College, T.A. Marryshaw Community College, Turks & Caicos Community College, Sir. Arthur Lewis Community College and Anton de Kom University of Suriname. The Round Table commenced with sharing from student leaders representing the institutions that were present. They shared an overview of their organization, the role and purpose, the structures that they work with, the constitution and evolution of the movement, and their futuristic areas of focus. When the common needs of the regional movements had been compiled, the Roundtable then actively sought to address these problems by visioning a model students’ movement structure. This model can be taken to the respective institutions that were represented so that they can judge themselves by it.
It was also recognized from the onset that there was a strong desire for a strong network of student movement in the Caribbean region. Unanimously, the Roundtable decided to commission a team to commence work on a draft proposal for a Regional Students Movement coming out of the inaugural Roundtable.
The body of participants collectively voiced the urgency of a regional student movement that would help to address common challenges of governance, leadership and accountability, budget cuts, inadequate levels of communication with administrations and student bodies, political interference, student mobilisation and partnership management.
The broad goals of this proposed Regional Students Movement are as follows:
- Execution of capacity building programmes that would foster leadership and advocacy skills
- Facilitating networking channels among National Student Movements by providing necessary resources
- Seeking redress of regional needs through research based advocacy
The Round Table set ambitious goals for the establishment of the CSM and is expecting further support from the CYPCC for a interim start up by march 2011 to begin working on constitutional and procedural matters.
The projected aim of all this, according to all the regional students present, is to produce affirmative young leaders with the capacity to function in a professionally demanding environment. This, in itself, would strengthen the region’s human resource and, with key strategizing, formulate long-term regional networks with core stakeholders at all levels of governance.
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