Sun | Apr 5, 2020

‘Stained!’ - Students, parents gutted by never-ending CMU scandals

Published:Tuesday | January 21, 2020 | 7:39 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Caribbean Maritime University students exit the east Kingston campus on Monday.
Caribbean Maritime University students exit the east Kingston campus on Monday.

Some parents whose children attend the scandal-hit Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) have admitted to being ashamed of the constant stream of corruption allegations that have dogged the leadership of the east Kingston school, triggering court action and audit probes.

At the centre of the outrage has been Professor Fritz Pinnock, CMU’s president, whose rise has closely matched that of the martime school’s transformation from institute to fledgling university.

Several stakeholders told The Gleaner yesterday that they had been weary of the never-ending trail of alleged nepotism and graft.

“I am feeling ashamed right now to have an association with the CMU at this time; it’s too much. And trust me, if I never have already paid over the monies for my son’s schooling, I would just move him elsewhere,” a parent, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

His son is now in his second year studying logistics.

He was not alone.

Let the chips fall

After dropping off her daughter at the gates of the main campus, Marline Hudson, when asked about her views, said that she, too, was concerned about the public-relations disaster that has unfolded since the sacking of Education Minister Ruel Reid in March 2019.

According to Hudson, the CMU Council and the Ministry of Education should ensure that “everything is placed on the table” and allow for “the chips to fall where they may” in order to get to the bottom of the issues marring the institution.

She said that she has sought to insulate her daughter from the embarrassing fallout by urging her to remain focused on her studies.

“There is not much I can do, you know. All I ask is for her ... not be too caught up in the politics of the issues. But I am sure she has her own take on things,” Hudson said.

At the same time, several students have expressed concern but told The Gleaner that they had put in place coping mechanisms.

One student, who gave her name only as Nicole (real name withheld), said that the unwanted attention given to the CMU has not served the school community well, but stained its “hard-earned reputation in irreparable ways”.

“My concern is that after all this is done, how people will look at us as graduates. How will they respond to our applications, even if we are certified? I am sure it will have some sort of impact,” she said.

The CMU currently has some 5,000 students enrolled at both the Palisadoes and Port Royal campuses.

Students in the dark

At the same time, students who read for the Career Advancement Programme (CAP) and the Centre of Occupational Studies (COS) programme, both administered by the CMU on behalf the Ministry of Education, said they remained in the dark about their certification.

However, a source within the ministry that confirmed some students had received certificates but was unable to say how many actually got their hands on their documents.

In the meantime, a student at the CMU who was well apprised of the non-delivery of certificates, told The Gleaner that he was certain that many students were still empty-handed.

“I am not sure if anyone from the COS programme received any, but I am certain no one from the CAP receive. In fact, persons from the previous CAP programme to the present cohort didn’t get any insurance card to do their practical. From my eyes that programme was just created to channel money and kill people’s future,” lamented the student.

Late yesterday afternoon, a Ministry of Education official said that all COS certificates had been prepared and were now available at the CMU and that students had been called to pick them up. This information was conveyed in December, he said.

According to the official, checks were done and it was determined that some of the students who complained of not receiving certificates had not completed all aspects of the programme and arrangements were made for them to do so.

The Occupational Associate Degree was launched in December 2016 and the programme commenced in January 2017 at seven tertiary institutions.