Photo: Member territory flags of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS)
Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 11, 2015 (SKNIS): The Eastern Caribbean Institute of Tourism (ECIT) is expected to be a model for improved knowledge management and sound educational research to the nine member territories of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), stated Dr. Stephen Boyce, European Union representative to the OECS and Barbados, during the Project Implementation Planning Workshop at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort on December 01.
“The ECIT model puts accreditation and quality assurance mechanisms on the front burner, while breathing new life into collaborative learning, hybrid institution and ease of practice,” he said. “If we get this right, ECIT will not be just another education project. It will be a new way of doing business in the sub-region.”
Dr. Boyce stated that the region can no longer rely on courting visitors with just sea, sand and sun, as visitors are now looking for unique experience.
“The region therefore needs a differentiator, backed by the human resources to support that differentiation,” he said, while adding that ECIT can be that game changer. “If we get this right, the possibilities for the education sector within the sub-region becomes endless.”
He noted that there is an opportunity to re-position the teaching of tourism and hospitality education, not just in terms of what is taught but also how that instruction is delivered.
“What began as a concept to expand a few institutions and programmes has evolved into an innovative plan to strengthen nine,” he said. “Within that plan resides seeds needed to transform a good education idea into a sound and sustainable economic driver for the sub-region.”
Dr. Boyce echoed the EU’s delight to supporting the ECIT initiative, as it has the potential to “convert the short and medium term gains of the past two decades of investments of the sector into sustainable transformational change.”
He pointed out that EU’s support to education in the Caribbean is unquestionable. The EU has provided “in excess of 250 million Euros towards education, human resource development within the Caribbean region on a whole, with 80 million Euros invested in the Eastern Caribbean,” he said.
The EU representative stated that in the past, they invested heavily on improving access and quality at the primary and secondary levels, while building capacity at the tertiary levels. He revealed that focus is now placed on the enhancement of technical and vocational education and training, support to digital connectivity and development of qualifications frameworks that provide currency to the region’s educational product.