Alumni association stops support for CASE in battle with education ministry

KINGSTON, Jamaica— The College of Agriculture, Science and Education Alumni Association (CASEAA) has stopped contributing and the support of some projects at the tertiary institution, after members were removed from the Board of Governance by the Ministry of Education.

Lacan Pius, president of CASEAA, in an interview with OBSERVER ONLINE, stated that the removal of the alumni members contravenes Section 42 d of the Education Act (1980), which addresses the composition of the Board of Governance of tertiary institutions.

Section 41 of the Education Act states: Every tertiary educational institution owned or aided by government shall be administered by a Board of not less than 10 nor more than 15 members appointed by the Minister in the following manner… (d) two members, one of whom shall be elected by the Old Student's Association and the other by a recognised local community group, where such bodies exist.

Pius stated that the board had two alumni members, Canute Saddler and himself. The association was, however, notified by a letter on July 14 that the ministry had removed them, without giving reasons for doing so, while also thanking them for their service.

Pius said that representatives of the ministry have not responded to efforts to discuss the issue, although the board has met several times since the removal of the alumni members.

“We felt that we were disrespected and for myself, I didn't get an opportunity to serve because, I only attended one meeting, which we requested. I was appointed to a board and didn't get the opportunity to serve.

“When we were thanked for our service, the association wrote to the minister, requesting a meeting and to date, we haven't received any response, based on the request to have dialogue on the matter,” Pius said.

According to Pius, before the removal, executive members of the alumni association were uneasy when the ministry wrote to the body in a letter dated May 26, that the new representatives to the board were accepted on March 10. The alumni's previous representatives were immediate past president, Webster McPherson, and Saddler.

He said the alumni association requested a board meeting and the representatives attended the sitting on July 5, during which they raised concerns regarding the renewal of the contract of the institution's President, Dr Derrick Deslandes, which would have expired on August 31.

Pius stated that after that meeting, the association received a letter advising of the removal of the alumni's representatives before the next board meeting, which has resulted in the impasse.

In the meantime, Pius said the alumni association will continue to assist students at the institution who were offered scholarships by the body and carry through some projects that the entity had initiated.

He, however, stated that the alumni association will not be assisting on new projects and others that were already started but were stalled until the ministry reinstates the body's representatives to the board.

The ministry failed to provide a representative who could respond. A request was made on January 10 with Director of Communications, Colin Steer, indicating several times that a representative would be provided, but none was forthcoming more than a week later.

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