Contrary To Ministers’ Claims, DSC Not Accredited

Education Minister Petter Saint Jean can hardly take to a podium these days without singing the praises of the Dominica State College (DSC).

The DSC is celebrated not just as the flagship project of his ministry, but as the crowning glory of the Skerrit administration as well.
Every government project or policy is somehow tied to this institution of higher learning and the country’s future has been mortgaged to the same. According to Saint Jean, the DSC is “targeted to be the catalyst in that cycle of change” for Dominica.

Saint Jean however, in his almost proselytic zeal to sell Dominica on DSC, has repeatedly made some outlandish claims about the college he knows are untrue.

On Tuesday for example, during the 2014 budget debate, he told Parliament the “Dominica State College credits are accepted worldwide, including the University of the West Indies where these credits are accepted for matriculation into all programmes”.

That of course is a lie. It is a lie perpetrated not only by the Minister of Education but also by the President of the Dominica State College, Dr. Donald Peters.

The truth is, the DSC and its degrees are not accredited. Ask Minister Saint Jean, Dr. Peters or the college registrar to provide proof that the college is accredited the next time you visit and they would be hard-pressed to do so. Plattsburg and a handful of other US universities may choose to accept the college credits, but that’s a far cry from saying DSC credits are “accepted worldwide” and are accredited.

In fact, contrary to Saint Jeans’ claims, the University of the West Indies (UWI) does not accept the DSC credits “for matriculation into all programs”. For years, UWI has insisted that before this can be done, the college would have to introduce some qualitative changes to its programmes and curriculum which it has stubbornly refused to implement. The university’s position has not changed.

According to UWI’s official website, normal matriculation is “passes in five subjects of which at least two must be at the CAPE/GCE A’level while the remainder may be an acceptable pass in CXC (CSEC)/GCE/BGCSE examinations”. And since Caribbean education systems are moving away from the British based curricula, the university emphasizes “Two 2-unit CAPE {Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination) or “six CAPE units including Caribbean Studies and Communication Studies” for matriculation. UWI also accepts “Associate Degrees from approved Caribbean tertiary level institutions with a minimum G.P.A. of 2.5” for matriculation, but unfortunately the DSC is not on that list.

Furthermore, there are a number of DSC graduates who have applied to UWI but were denied advanced standing and not granted transfer credits for work completed at the college.

The new state of the art DSC is no doubt an impressive structure. Quality education however is much more than bricks and mortar and while Minister Saint Jeans tries hard to convince the Dominica people that “:the state college leads the way” in tertiary education, our students are falling behind their regional counterparts at UWI and US universities. Significant numbers of DSC graduates are struggling during their first and second years at US universities and are consistently underperforming other Caribbean students presenting with CAPE.

We need to right those wrongs. Minister Saint Jean and the college board must not continue to so brazenly mislead the public and shortchange our students. There is nothing dishonorable about admitting that the state college is not now accredited but we are working on negotiating articulation agreements with a few universities. DSC does have the potential to become one of the premiere state colleges in the sub-region and the catalyst for change in Dominica, but the authorities need to desperately start paying some attention to the soft side of educational development and investing in quality assurance.

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