MPs Informed about NIPA by Students, Board and Director

POSTED: 02/17/15 12:01 AM

St. Maarten -The Committee for Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Affairs (CECYSA) of Parliament met on Thursday, February 12, with students of the National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA) as well as the NIPAs Board and its Managing Director.

These meetings had been called in response to the reports reaching parliament pertaining to the challenges being faced by students of the NIPA, as well as a letter from the Presidium of Parliament requesting the attention of the committee to meet with the various stakeholders.

As a result the meetings were scheduled with all stakeholders to get a clear picture of the challenges and issues that have been brought to light. A meeting was also planned with the Minister of Education Minister Rita Bourne-Gumbs and her support staff related to this agenda point, but had to be postponed as the other two meetings ran longer than had been expected.

This meeting will be rescheduled to take place in the week of February 23rd. The meetings were closed to the public as they are fact finding meetings needed to plan the way forward as well as due to the sensitivity of the subject matter. In the first meeting held at 9 am, students from several sectors, SPW3, LPN, RN and Hospitality presented their concerns, issues and challenges since following the educational path at the NIPA. The main challenges were identified as: lack of instructors, lack of materials, lack of communication, accreditation of the diplomas and certificates upon graduation.

The Members of the Parliament (MPs) present were very impressed with the way the students presented themselves and their complaints, and commended them for standing up for themselves in the correct manner. MPs also voiced their support for the students in finding answers to the questions they posed, and in following up on finding solutions to these challenges all in the interest of making sure the NIPA fulfils the goals for which is was established.

During the second meeting of the committee which commenced at 10.25 am, the Board, represented by Mrs. Marcella Hazel, gave an elucidation as to the solutions that had been found for the pressing challenges which had been brought to the board’s attention in January. The care instructors are now in place as of February 5th, and solutions are being sought to fulfill the obligations of NIPA in providing instructors in the other areas which fall short.

The situation of the LPN students in terms of their final examinations, which all passed last Tuesday, and the diploma and pin was also explained. MPs were given assurances by the Board, that it was working diligently with the Ministry to finalize the process to validate the diplomas for these first graduates of the LPN (Nursing Assistant) program. MPs asked several questions during this meeting, seeking further clarification to the questions posed by the students in the earlier meeting. The members further stressed to the Board that they would continue to follow up and looked forward to solutions being implemented soonest.

The Board of the NIPA expressed their concern in seeing the solutions through, as well as presented a plan to implement a Teacher, Parent, Student Committee which would help bridge the communication gap. The Board also expressed that they faced many challenges due to budget constraints and the manner in which the institute is financed. They claimed to require an Executive Director and a HR Manager who would work full time to free up time for the Director to focus on managing the school.

Several issues raised by the Board will need to be clarified further in the meeting planned with the Minister of Education who is ultimately responsible. The meeting was closed with assurances from the Board that they welcome the opportunity to return to further inform Parliament as they implement some of the necessary changes in order to fulfill the goals and responsibilities of the institution to the students and the community.

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