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The College of The Bahamas (COB) yesterday dismissed claims from executives of The Union of Tertiary Educators of The Bahamas (UTEB) who last week asserted that COB was in a “forced relationship” with The Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) and the college noted that BAMSI is in complete alignment with its mission.

Last week, UTEB criticized the government for not having a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the college and BAMSI.

Therefore, the union expressed fears in the college’s future with BAMSI.

According to UTEB, if the institute started instructing students within the next two weeks using COB courses and programs, the union said it would violate COB’s intellectual property rights.

However, the college said in a statement Monday that a Memorandum of Understanding between the two institutions is currently being reviewed.

According to the statement, a Franchise Agreement will also be reached, the agreements would define the relationship between COB and BAMSI, the obligations of both parties under the agreements and the joint endeavours anticipated to be effected through the collaborative efforts to generate a new stream of revenue for the college.

“When the opportunity presented itself for the soon-to-be university to be involved in a major initiative of the Government of The Bahamas to diversify the economy, to create a greater level of food security and to encourage applied research across our archipelago, the opportunity was embraced, how could it not,” the statement read.

“Contrary to what the President of UTEB has stated in the press, COB is not in a “forced relationship” with BAMSI. The mission of BAMSI is in complete alignment with the mission of the College and the University. The UTEB president would have the College wait to begin the working relationship with BAMSI after the MOU had been signed. This is a distorted understanding of how the world works and truly naïve when you consider that behind BAMSI stands the Government of The Bahamas, which is the main funding source for COB.”

During a visit to North Andros Monday, the site of the soon-to-be opened BAMSI, Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald called UTEB’s statements irrational, irresponsible and reckless and he said the union should have done its research before releasing its statement.

“When I saw the statement from the president of UTEB, I thought actually that it was a statement from the Opposition because that’s what I expect from them because the president of the union has every avenue available to him to find out the facts, he can call me, he can talk to the chairman, it’s simple, there is no reason for him to issue such a statement,” the minister.

“It’s just a shame that with all the work you see going on here that all of this pointing to a very bright future for us that there are still those in this country that either don’t want to see or believe, I would just encourage Bahamians, lets unite behind this, this is an extraordinary program that we’re doing. There need not be these reckless statements without having some bases for finding out what the truth is.”

Minister Fitzgerald explained that a MOU is on the way and addressed those concerns regarding course accreditation.

“With regard to a Memorandum of Understanding…COB and BAMSI are working diligently to get the MOU completed,” he said. “Last week we went over the draft of it and this week we’re supposed to finalize the conclusion of it but that doesn’t mean that what goes on behind the course outline in preparing the courses and getting those approved by COB, all those are being done now as we speak and at the end of the day we will not have a course in here that COB does not sanction or don’t have oversight over and total control over who lectures the program because all of that comes from their accreditation of the program.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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