PROF Clem Imbert has said the MIC Institute of Technology (MIC-IT) has lost half its annual funding, but is still faced with stiff costs, including a hefty $7,000 per week paid to the Police Service to guard its Laventille Institute of Technology against gang activity in the area.
Imbert, the institute’s chairman, led his officials as they appeared before Parliament’s Joint Select Committee (JSC) on State Enterprises along with officials from the Ministries of Education and Finance yesterday at the Parliament building. Anthony Vieira chaired the JSC.
Saying 90 per cent of students at the centre are from the local area, Imbert said it is a challenge to have people from both Laventille and the Beetham at the same spot, as it leads to fighting. Many times, he said, this fighting had forced MIC-IT to transfer students to other branches such as O’Meara.
“So that environment is not being maximised,” he admitted.
Imbert said the MIC-IT spends $7,000 per week on paying the police for protection.
“It’s a very tense situation there. I have had instructors say they are not going back there.
“I’ve told them, ‘Listen, I go there whenever I wish.’ Maybe because I’m not from Laventille or the Beetham, nobody has shot me yet. But I show the example by going there and talking to them.”
Imbert said the MIC-IT is considering offering training to the police to try to offset the $7,000 weekly cost. So far the MICIT has been assisting the Police Academy, but on a pro-bono basis, he said.
Boasting the MIC-IT was easily the best trainer of its type in the Caribbean, Imbert said the programme has projects under way in St Maarten, Grenada and St Vincent and will soon be going to Guyana.
Imbert urged the Government to spend $3 billion a year on innovation to develop the country, just as South Korea had done previously. To questioning by committee member Fazal Karim, Imbert said the bespoke tailoring programme being housed by the MIC was not yet accredited but was “almost there.”