Hundreds of youths who have completed a range of courses under the Career Advancement Programme (CAP) at the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) have given the campus a failing grade after receiving no certification and stipend more than a year after ending studies, a three-week Gleaner investigation has revealed.
Started in 2010 as a flagship education programme providing technical, vocational, and educational training and certification for youth aged 16 to 18, CAP and its affiliate programmes have been mired in dysfunction, non-performance, and allegations of corruption.
Several students with whom The Gleaner spoke over three weeks said they felt cheated and cast the management of CMU as lacking transparency. The students have requested that their real names not be published because they fear victimisation by the university’s administrators.
Former student Dwayne Ellis* said he was enrolled in the programme to be certified in logistics and management.
“They said when we do this programme, we are going to be exempt from certain classes. I said, ‘OK,’ and opted to do it. They said we would be placed in facilities like the wharf and other warehouses, but that never happened,” Ellis told The Gleaner .
Ellis was in the programme from 2016 to 2018.
NO CERTIFICATES He told our news team that he was optimistic at the outset of getting enrolled in the CAP course.
“We nuh have money to go to university or anywhere else, and because they were issuing something free, and it could get us a little further in life, them just scrap it and done, just so,” Ellis explained.
He said he checked for answers, but none were forthcoming.
“We went there for two years, and they just stopped the programme, and they did not tell us that the programme is stopped. We are not certified in no area. We were supposed to get an NCTVET. We were supposed to get a HEART certificate and a general certificate from the university. Three certificates, and nobody got any,” Ellis told The Gleaner, referring to the National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training.
He informed our news team that he spent approximately $1,000 per school day for two years to attend classes.
“I am so exhausted. They promised us, and we are finished. The certificate, as you can see on TV when they talk about it, it is targeting unattached youths and youths that society has disregarded in some ways, and that they are trying to help certain people. You gonna take up some people and promise them a thing for two years and there is nothing to prove. … The whole process was a sham.”
His fears have been corroborated by Kadian Brown*, who said she is still awaiting certification in logistics and warehousing management. She was told that she would receive an NCTVET Level Two certificate at the end of the two-year programme in 2018.
“When we got enrolled, they told us it was a two-year programme, [for] which, when we finished, we would receive an NCTVET Level Two certificate, but we didn’t receive it,” Brown said.
Lecturers often failed to attend those classes, The Gleaner learnt.
“We did final exams and sat with students over by the main college. They said if we passed certain courses now, we would be exempted when we go over the main college. They gave us this piece of paper, … but it doesn’t mean anything because it doesn’t have any stamp or anything to say that it’s legit,” she said.
REPEATING COURSES Brown is now a student at the main campus and told The Gleaner that she was tasked to repeat courses under threat of not being graded.
“I would have to pay to do it back based on the credit weight. When I checked the portal, it said I already got a B from the time I did it in the CAP programme. I think they are confused. The programme just stopped, and everything just stopped. Two years of your life wasted,” Brown said.
The university is led by acting President Ibrahim Ajagunna, who assumed the helm of CMU after its de facto boss, Dr Fritz Pinnock, and former Education Minister Ruel Reid were slapped with corruption charges in October. Pinnock has been sent on leave.
Despite several visits by reporters to CMU’s east Kingston campus and phone calls to administrators, the university has presented a wall of silence.
Since mid-November, Codolee Gordon, client relations officer, acknowledged receiving requests for information from The Gleaner and pledged that senior administrators would respond. However, no response has been forthcoming.
That information blackout echoes the treatment received by another student, Ruth Collins*, who told The Gleaner that she struggled to explain to her family that she had nothing to show for the money loaned to her. Because of the lack of paperwork, she has found it difficult to land a job in her field of study.
“It’s hundreds of students; it’s not me alone, hundreds of students. I tried to get employment at the wharf, and I can’t get it. How am I going to prove? I don’t have any certificate that I am qualified in that area. I send out résumés, but you know, couple of times I wanted to put ‘warehouse and distribution’ on my résumé, but I know they gonna ask me for the document, so it doesn’t make any sense that I lie,” she said.
Collins revealed that promises of a stipend and lunch subvention were comforts to a fool.
“We have received neither lunch, bus fare, nor our certificate. It cost me about $600 a day to attend school,” Collins said.
* Names changed
LINK ORIGINAL: Jamaica Gleaner