MP Lake fully agrees with WITU President Claire Elshot that Government has to do what is necessary to make the NIPA work

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Member of Parliament Hon. Maurice Lake United People’s (UP) Party Faction.
Independent Member of Parliament Hon. Maurice Lake

PHILIPSBURG, St Maarten – Member of Parliament (MP) Maurice Lake said on after the parliamentary session that as a “…representative of the people and as an educator, I am very concerned with what is happening at the National Institute for Professional Advancement (NIPA).

“The school needs an intermediate intervention by Government to dismiss the Board based on the National Ordinance establishing a regime for secondary and vocational education and the Government subsidy agreement.

“The Board seems to continue to be keep making the same mistakes over and over again with the current students.  Based on the National Ordinance articles, establishing a regime for secondary and vocational education, states “The Minister has to dissolve in case of serious neglect of duties by the Board or is in operate in violation of the laws and regulation authorized to provide for the administration of the institution and, if necessary, the public body.

“Another article states that the Board shall report annually to the Minister on the work. The report shall be made public.  To date, the Board has not met the Minister or any of the deadlines, articles of the National Ordinance, and they validate the programs at NIPA.  Imagine after 18 months, zero students graduate with a valid diploma from the school.

“The Department of Education is still in the process of validating the programs at NIPA.  This only demotivates the students who have high dreams and goals of getting their degree from NIPA. This is simply amazing. NIPA started in 2014 with 288 students enrolled in the different programs and by 2015 the school only has currently 64 students in which 127 had originally registered. Within the six weeks since school started the number keeps dipping where some students don’t show up or don’t come on a regular basis.

“The Board has six law suits against them whereby two persons already won their court cases which includes the former Managing Director of NIPA which they fired because he invited dignitaries to an Open House.  I would like to know where the Board is getting this money to pay for these unnecessary law suits?  Is this money coming from the Government Subsidy which is ear marked for NIPA educational programs? If yes, this is financial mismanagement by the Board.

“What happened to the evening nursing classes where the majority of the students stopped attending classes which also I think the Board should do the honorable thing and compensate these students for false expectation by the school.  After a year attending classes they were informed by the school that they should be working in the field and to take the course in the evening.

“This only creates false hope and expectations for the students and that’s why it is high time these Foundations and Government Owned Companies start following the rules and the laws based on good governance and go through the corporate governance council by presenting a profile of each board member.

“I fully agree that most of these articles of incorporation of these institutions need to be reviewed based on integrity, transparency and accountability.  We have to start holding Ministers and Board members accountable for these type of situations. Government and the Education Inspectors have to step up to the plate and use their powers and enforce the law on these institutions before it reaches so far, and start putting the right qualified people in the right positions instead of putting friends on these boards.

“The Minister has to enforce the law and can’t go by signing Memorandums of Understanding with the current NIPA Board, who has failed miserably in providing quality education and a sense of direction for management, staff and students.

“In closing, as WITU President stated, we shall not let the institute fail but structure it correctly with the right vision, mission and purpose of the school.  ‘Prior planning prevents poor performance.’

“We have to establish a strategic plan for NIPA and create opportunities for students from the neighbouring islands such as Saba, Statia and Anguilla can also attend classes.  The NIPA school has a lot of potential for the future and we should dissolve the current Board and put new Board members with a vision to bring back hope for the students attending NIPA,” MP Maurice Lake pointed ou