“Veritas” (“Truth”)
— Harvard University motto

David Marshall, president of International College of the Cayman Islands, is battling for accountability and standards in local higher education.

He should not be the lone combatant in this worthy struggle. In order to succeed, Dr. Marshall needs the support of this country. He surely has ours.

For those not accustomed to straight talk and truth-telling, Dr. Marshall’s frank letter to the Education Council may be somewhat revelatory. In his message to Council Chair and Education Minister Tara Rivers, Dr. Marshall states several concerns. Here, we will review two of them:

The more stringent grading standards at ICCI, compared to University College of the Cayman Islands, means that “Caymanian students at ICCI are more likely to be suspended and/or put on warning regarding their government scholarships than their counterparts at UCCI.” In other words, the fact that it is more difficult to maintain a 3.0 grade average at ICCI puts students at risk of losing their tuition assistance and puts the college at risk of losing funding

“We also have an additional concern about the preparedness of students who are coming to ICCI from both Government Public Schools and UCCI.” Only 16 percent of entering students can pass simple arithmetic tests, and only 22 percent can pass simple English tests. Of UCCI students wishing to transfer into ICCI, only 2 in 10 can pass those tests, despite their UCCI transcripts showing them earning As, Bs or Cs in those subjects.

Although the concerns are not identical, they are aspects common to Dr. Marshall’s crusade to raise the quality of education at his institution. For the government bureaucrats in the Ministry of Education to whom Dr. Marshall has been addressing his statements, the subject is all theory. For Dr. Marshall, who works with students on a daily basis, there is nothing theoretical about it. It is reality.

Dr. Marshall’s points are very clear. First, ICCI students (and ICCI itself) should not be put at a financial disadvantage for choosing a more difficult academic path. Second, students who are not ready to go to college should not be in college.

Here is a third point, of which Cayman’s business community should take special note: “We believe that an employer should have a real and accurate record of a student’s true academic performance.”

At this juncture, let us note that we are not supporting Person A over Person B, ICCI President David Marshall over UCCI President Roy Bodden, or ICCI over UCCI. What we do support is education, higher education and higher standards.

If the words and actions of Dr. Marshall, Dr. Bodden or anyone else align with that vision, then we support them in their mission as well.

Based on what we have seen from ICCI since Dr. Marshall arrived in February 2014, the private sector should be stepping up to deliver greater financial support to the institution so it’s not forced to rely on government’s nickels and dimes.

ICCI shouldn’t have to go door to door seeking assistance from businesses. The private sector should be knocking on ICCI’s door, checkbook in hand.

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  1. We should be very thankful for Dr. Marshall for calling out this so called Education Minister that has taken on the job and don’t know anything about it and destroying the future generations of the Island . I know that it’s not too late to do , but I think that the people of Cayman Islands demand that she step down from being the Education Minister , because I and many more know that she is not qualified to do the job, and get a qualified candidate for the job.

  2. I was thinking that we are all born the same, with equal capabilities for learning. A Caymanian child is no different from Chinese or Armenian kids for example. The Chinese or Armenian writing system is mind boggling, yet everyone learns it. With proper education a Caymanian kid has innate abilities to easily learn anything. So the problem lies with the teaching methods. When an A student can’t pass a simple math test, something is seriously wrong. On the larger scale that means that caymanian kids and youth are intellectually behind their international peers. And these kids are the future leaders and workforce of this country.

  3. It’s been a long time since this old codger was in school. It would be very interesting if you could publish examples of the English and Maths tests referred to as simple .

    Of course I agree with the importance of good education for our young people.

    If you can read, write and do basic math you can master almost any subject in the world.

  4. I wonder if Dr. Marshall is referring to the Kids from Government Schools, or Private Schools . I know that Private Schools have higher educational standards than Government / public Schools . So then could it be possible that the Leadership is the problem and not the Kids . We have to remember that the child is there to learn , if you can’t teach the Kid or have a intrest in all Kids , then some would fail .