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Friday, May 05, 2006 

Caribbean tertiary education project gets 2M euros from EU
Thursday, May 4th 2006

The European Union (EU) through its Guyana office formally agreed yesterday to grant 2 million euros for the support of the Caribbean Knowledge and Learning Network (CKLN) which will focus on upgrading tertiary institutions across the Caribbean.

Per Eklund, Head of Delegation of the European Commission (EC) to Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, and the Netherlands, signed for the EU at a ceremony at the Caricom Secretariat, Turkeyen, East Coast Demerara.

Secretary General of Caricom and of Cariforum (the Caribbean Forum of ACP States), Edwin Carrington, signed on behalf of the Caribbean states.

The CKLN aims to enhance the competitiveness of the Caribbean through interconnectivity of Caribbean tertiary institutions, allowing persons to get a tertiary education studying online at an affordable cost. This is expected to elevate and expand the skills base of the region's workforce. The intention is also to link up later with Latin America and other distance-learning programmes.

Countries which will immediately benefit from the CKLN are Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Eklund told reporters, Secretariat staff, and other officials yesterday that the money is part of the commission's European Development Fund for support to regional programmes.

This grant by the EC is part of a larger programme supported by Caribbean governments, the World Bank, and other donors amounting to some US$9M, an EU press release said.

Carrington told those gathered that the CKLN was "a major step" and "a crucial building block" to complement the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) and meet the Millennium Development Goals.

He noted that with the now well-known challenges facing the region as a result of the erosion of the preferential price for sugar, "projects like these serve to allay fears."

In May last year a Caricom press release noted that Professor Stewart Marshall, Director of the Distance Education Centre at the UWI, had recognised the CKLN as a critical initiative which appreciated the importance of collaboration and partnerships for the development of small island states.

© Stabroek News

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