Open letter to Education Minister Dr. Gale Rigobert from past local medical student

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Open letter to Education Minister Dr. Gale Rigobert from past local medical student
Education Minister Dr. Gale Rigobert.
Education Minister Dr. Gale Rigobert.

Dear Dr. Gale Rigobert: I saw your speech on the medical schools in St. Lucia and I am writing to ask whether you or anyone else in power has any intention of helping the students who were/are enrolled in those schools.

You see, I am a past student of one of the schools that you so casually dismissed. I am writing this as an open letter because there are so many of us being affected.

A few years ago, I attended one of these schools out of necessity. You see, I always wanted to study medicine and as a quite frankly, broke, young person, attending one of these schools seemed to be a blessing in disguise because I would only have to pay for tuition and not room and board.

I undertook the gruelling programme, gladly endured the sleepless nights, the hard hours, the difficult classes, the thankless, sometimes angry patients who were not happy to have students accompanying their doctors and observing them, all in the hopes that I would some day have my degree in hand and be able to serve my country and pay off my debts.

That day came and I received my certificate, got to put on my gown and shake the Dean’s hand and thank him for handing me that piece of paper I had worked myself to the bone for.

You can probably imagine that it came as no small disappointment when I went to the ministry to see what kinds of opportunites were available for me, only to be told that my degree was essentially worthless because the ministry was cracking down on my school and others like it.

I have to wonder, why it is that Spartan was afforded nearly 40 years to obtain its accreditation, of which it is still only partially accredited, while my school and the two others like it were only afforded a few years to obtain the same accreditation?

Now I watched you on the news and I grew confused because I received the letter from the ECFMG which stated in part: “For students/graduates of a medical school to be eligible to apply to ECFMG for ECFMG Certification, ECFMG must have, among other things, confirmation from the appropriate ministry in the medical school’s host country that the medical school is recognized as a medical school by the ministry.”

From this I gathered that the main reason students are no longer allowed to apply for ECFMG certification is because the body was advised that the ministry no longer recognises the school. From what you said on the news, it sounded like you would have the public believe that the ECFMG is an accrediting body, which in fact it is not, it is simply a body which allows students to apply for the United States medical licensing exam.

I am not pointing fingers or passing blame, I am simply pointing out how some of your statements could have appeared misleading and even more damaging.

So without approval from the school, we are not eligible to apply to ECFMG but as far as the ministry is concerned, from what I was told, without being eligible to apply to ECFMG, we are not recognised by the ministry. It appears to be a lose-lose situation for us no matter how you look at it.

In closing, I would like to stress again the fact that Spartan was allowed almost four decades to obtain accreditation from CAAM-HP while the other schools were allowed less than half that amount of time, and that Spartan’s accreditation, according to the CAAM-HP website, is not even full accreditation and is partial accreditation.

I would like to inquire as to whether the ministry has any intention of helping people like me who are in massive amounts of debt with what appears to be a hopeless future.

Many of my past classmates are also locals and we voted for the UWP to come into power last year because we believed the campaign promises that said you would improve the country. I hope that you and those who also hold our lives in your hands do not let us down.

Yours sincerely,
Hopeless but not Defeated.

(90)(8)

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49 COMMENTS

  1. My dear friend , I understand your frustration ,it is truly heart breaking but your life is in God's hands not that of politicians.

    (3)(1)

  2. What needs to be addressed now is will the government still recognize these schools if they are accredited via Caribbean accreditation committee? According to ECFMG, if the schools can get the government to recognize them then ECFMG will update the accreditation status in World Health Directory of MEDICAL SCHOOLS.

    (3)(1)

  3. To the people that keep telling the students to do their research. How do you know they didn't? Most of the schools being called unaccredited now, were recognized by the government, WHO, and ECFMG up to late last year. Caam-hp is relatively new and the government basically demanded that these schools get approved by this NEW body before they could be approved by the government. You can't look at NEW information and say that these students didn't do their research. Things have changed and they unfortunately got stuck in it. Why are so many people rejoicing in what happened and just bashing them without understanding the whole situation.

    (13)(0)

  4. It is wise to do your research on any school that you are about to attend to find out about their accreditation and this information is always listed on their website. Accreditation is very important or else your four or more years attending an non accredited school would be futile and will cause you much pain and suffering in the long run.
    I cannot believe those students were taken advantage like this and were told that their school was not accredited, this is nothing but robbery and a shame for both the school and the government.

    You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.

    – James 2: 19

    (1)(1)

  5. What most of you fail to understand is that Government is not the sole arbiter for accreditation. The Ministry can only offer a license to operate. A government saying "yes" is not accreditation. There are several requirements that the school need to have to the satisfaction of the accrediting body. In fact the Government would be glad that it could boast there to be so many accredited medical schools in St. Lucia.

    (4)(4)

  6. The media need to be more proactive. They need to do more investigate journalism rather than follow after hot topics. Will the media now be challenge to conduct some serious investigation into the operations of those medical and association institutions? .

    (13)(2)

      • If you, Anonymous are talking about IAU, there's a person, James, on the other story " Press release: 31 students from vieuxfort....." saying people from IAU staff got paid and I know that's not true because a friend of mine still haven't got paid.

        (4)(0)

        • Nigel, you are hitting a nail right on the head that most people are not even aware of. IAU has a long history of abusing its employees and not following employment laws of St. Lucia. They pay the people when they feel like it and the government just sits by and let them do it. They makin money off the backs of locals while they line their pockets. Yes, the IAU helps out the local economy which is badly needed but at a high price.

          Friends of mine not getting paid for 1 to 2 months and they say nothing. not even, we pay you next week of the week after that. Nothing!.

          These people are modern day slavers.

          (2)(0)

          • Up to now I haven't been paid for over 2 months and nobody at that place is taking my calls or returning my messages, if I don't get paid by next week the next call they will get is from a lawyer or the labor department.

            (0)(0)

  7. Firstly my heart goes out to you . I can only imagine your frustration, horror and disappointment when you completed this course! Added to the debts incurred and having to repay without a substantial job!
    I do feel your pain because a little over a yr ago, my son was awarded a scholarship to Venezuela to do med. I was elated and he was ecstatic. I spent so much getting him ready including spending $500 on a barrel to cater for food shortages only to find out the barrel exploded later by the Venezuela Ambassador! Lol. Although the situation itself was heart wrecking finding out that the place was not accredited and did not stand a chance to be,; but it was the inhumane treatment brought about by Minister Gale Rigobert that did! She needs to be more sensitive especially in dealing with young people! To date the kids were told they were still on scholardhip yet govt denies them support to continu the program. Moreover what good will it serve to go back to politically unstable Venezuela! Hate politics; yet I strongly believe that SLP would have fulfilled its mandate! ( considering I put Chastenet there) lol

    (15)(3)

  8. Lol, i still waiting for the repeal of VAT, I voted for that. I still waiting for toilet by the road when I working STEP. You going to medical school and you voted for that, lol. The Chinese will need the space where your school is
    I can't help but laugh at the state people like you put this country in.

    (7)(11)

    • And do you think slp would have done a better job ? The country was in a mess with them and it's still in a mess with uwp... both parties do some good and mess up a lot... I'm sure another set of people would be crying if slp remained in power... they give y'all a little plywood during their campaign for y'all house and y'all believe y'all indebted to a party... lmao grow up

      (5)(6)

  9. I am a labour hack and think it a damn shame that the writer saw it important to include the fact that they voted flambeau, yes gassuh! Was he/ she under the impression that the price of coffee would be affected by that confession?

    Oh well, sigh, what was the intention of the writer?
    What will writing this letter change?
    A petition lerhaps, may have troubled the waters.

    (1)(11)

  10. I feel sorry for the students. I feel sorry for the persons with harsh negative comments also... I am sorry that the level of ignornce is still so so high. This is the only time in my life I didnt regret furturing my education in that field as I was advised to. Because I would have suffered that same blow.

    (4)(0)

  11. Before applying for any school in yr country or out please do a thorough research . I did so before I applied and asked alot of questions before I signed any document.

    (11)(6)

    • What about those students that were already halfway through their programmes when all this accreditation stuff came around? I was one of those people lucky enough to be out of the system when all of this started, but before, the caam-hp was not a requirement, it's fairly new, before, all you had to do was complete your schooling and finish the exams, some people got caught in the middle, which is most likely what happened to the person who sent the letter.

      (7)(0)

  12. Wow, so many heartless people in the comments, I hope it doesn't happen, but if we hear about a medical student committing suicide, will your conscience be clear?

    (20)(3)

  13. THE UNDERLYING SOURCE OF THE START OF THIS PROBLEM IS THE FACT THAT ST LUCIA DOES NOT HAVE AN ACCREDITING BODY...EVERY CARIBBEAN COUNTRY WITH MEDICAL SCHOOLS HAS ONE EXCEPT ST LUCIA...HAVING A GOVERNMENT CHARTER TO OPERATE YOUR BUSINESS IS NOT ENOUGH...SCHOOLS NEED A BODY TO ACCREDIT AND ALLOW ALL THE GRADUATES TO PRACTISE MEDICINE IN THE HOST COUNTRY(ST LUCIA)...HOW IN GOD'S NAME THE SCHOOLS EVEN HAD PERMISSION TO HAVE RECOGNITION BY ECFMG IS A GROSS OVERSIGHT...HOWEVER, ECFMG CAUGHT ON AND WAS WARNING ST LUCIA TO EITHER GET THEIR OWN ACCREDITATION BODY (BUT SINCE THEY’RE TOO SCARED TO TAKE ON THE RESPONSIBILTY..THEY LEFT THAT TO CAAMHP)...THE SUMMARY IS ST LUCIA...AND I REPEAT ST LUCIA.. HAS FRAUDULENTLY ALLOWED THE OPERATION OF MEDICAL SCHOOLS ON THE ISLAND BY NOT HAVING AN ACCREDITATION BODY...
    CAAMHP IS FAIRLY NEW AND CAME INTO ACTIVE EXISTENCE IN 2003...SPARTAN HAS EXISTED BEFORE CAAMHP, THEY ARE HERE SINCE 1980 ON THIS ISLAND, ST GEORGE'S SINCE 1977, ROSS 1978..SO THEY ARE OLDER THAN THE BODY ITSELF...
    All this means is that ST LUCIA ALLOWED MEDICAL SCHOOLS TO OPERATE without the SANCTION OF AN ACCREDITING LOCAL BODY, SINCE BEFORE THE TIME CAAMHP CAME INTO EXISTENCE..AND THEY NEVER BOTHER TO FIX IT...NOW THAT ECFMG HAS PRESSURED THEM THEY ARE PUSHING THE SOLE RESPONSIBILITY OF ACCREDITATION ON CAAMHP...
    IF THEY HAD AN ACCREDITATION BODY THE SCHOOLS WOULD HAVE REGULARIZE AND BE KEPT IN LINE, THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO WATCH OVER THEM AND ENSURED THAT THEY RAN THE SCHOOLS WELL TO SUIT ALL HIGH STANDARDS THEY WERE LOOKING FOR...
    THEY ARE ALL TO BLAME, AND NOW EVERYONE WILL SUFFER...WHILST OTHER ISLANDS ARE WORKING HARD TO KEEP THEIR INVESTORS TO ENSURE THEY ARE IN LINE AND TO STIMULATE GROWTH FOR THE PPL...
    GET IT TOGETHER ST LUCIA!!..LEARN TO LEAD IN MEDICAL EDUCATION AND NOT FOLLOW..YOUR CHILDREN ARE TIRED OF SWEEPING, MOPPING AND MAKING THE BEDS IN HOTELS..A NEW PATH SHOULD BE CHARTERED IN HEALTH CARE AND MEDICAL EDUCATION NOT ONLY HOTEL HOSPITALITY!
    ///

    (57)(0)

  14. THE UNDERLYING SOURCE OF THE START OF THIS PROBLEM IS THE FACT THAT ST LUCIA DOES NOT HAVE AN ACCREDITING BODY...EVERY CARIBBEAN COUNTRY WITH MEDICAL SCHOOLS HAS ONE EXCEPT ST LUCIA...HAVING A GOVERNMENT CHARTER TO OPERATE YOUR BUSINESS IS NOT ENOUGH...SCHOOLS NEED A BODY TO ACCREDIT AND ALLOW ALL THE GRADUATES TO PRACTISE MEDICINE IN THE HOST COUNTRY(ST LUCIA)...

    HOW IN GOD'S NAME THE SCHOOLS EVEN HAD PERMISSION TO HAVE RECOGNITION BY ECFMG IS A GROSS OVERSIGHT...HOWEVER, ECFMG CAUGHT ON AND WAS WARNING ST LUCIA TO EITHER GET THEIR OWN ACCREDITATION BODY (BUT SINCE THEY’RE TOO SCARED TO TAKE ON THE RESPONSIBILTY..THEY LEFT THAT TO CAAMHP)...THE SUMMARY IS ST LUCIA...AND I REPEAT ST LUCIA.. HAS FRAUDULENTLY ALLOWED THE OPERATION OF MEDICAL SCHOOLS ON THE ISLAND BY NOT HAVING AN ACCREDITATION BODY...AND THIS STARTED SINCE 1980!

    CAAMHP IS FAIRLY NEW AND CAME INTO ACTIVE EXISTENCE IN 2003...SPARTAN HAS EXISTED BEFORE CAAMHP, THEY ARE HERE SINCE 1980 ON THIS ISLAND, ST GEORGE'S SINCE 1977, ROSS 1978..SO THEY ARE OLDER THAN THE BODY ITSELF...

    All this means is that ST LUCIA ALLOWED MEDICAL SCHOOLS TO OPERATE without the SANCTION OF AN ACCREDITING LOCAL BODY, SINCE BEFORE THE TIME CAAMHP CAME INTO EXISTENCE..AND THEY NEVER BOTHER TO FIX IT...NOW THAT ECFMG HAS PRESSURED THEM THEY ARE PUSHING THE SOLE RESPONSIBILITY OF ACCREDITATION ON CAAMHP...

    IF THEY HAD AN ACCREDITATION BODY THE SCHOOLS WOULD HAVE REGULARIZE AND BE KEPT IN LINE, THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO WATCH OVER THEM AND ENSURED THAT THEY RAN THE SCHOOLS WELL TO SUIT ALL HIGH STANDARDS THEY WERE LOOKING FOR...

    THEY ARE ALL TO BLAME, AND NOW EVERYONE WILL SUFFER...WHILST OTHER ISLANDS ARE WORKING HARD TO KEEP THEIR INVESTORS TO ENSURE THEY ARE IN LINE AND TO STIMULATE GROWTH FOR THE PPL...

    GET IT TOGETHER ST LUCIA!!..LEARN TO LEAD IN MEDICAL EDUCATION AND NOT FOLLOW..YOUR CHILDREN ARE TIRED OF SWEEPING, MOPPING AND MAKING THE BEDS IN HOTELS..A NEW PATH SHOULD BE CHARTERED IN HEALTH CARE AND MEDICAL EDUCATION NOT ONLY HOTEL HOSPITALITY!

    (11)(0)

  15. It's sad this person is blaming the government for an internal problem with the school. Dear student, the problems with ECFMG AND YOUR SCHOOL was one which already gave problems for you to gain employment after graduation.
    Medicine isn't all glamour and finding a job after medical school isn't guaranteed. You should ask your fellow colleagues.

    A favor was granted to you lot by having the school pull up its socks ASAP bc sweetheart,
    1. You wouldn't be able to practice with your school being unaccredited, especially having issues with ECFMG (say bye bye to a job)

    2. UWI is cracking up on its matriculation numbers plus Cuban grads are at an al time high which means you're at the bottom of the barrel - harsh reality

    3. USMLEs may save you but your schools issue with ECFMG makes it even more grim

    4. Spartan didn't get 40 years to get accreditation so stop your high horse bullshit.
    Spartan and your school underwent the same accreditation process and your school failed.

    5. If you were as smart as you portrayed you'd read on the accreditation process and most schools get a provisiona for a certain number of years in order to perfect what the board is looking for. You school did not come close hence DENIED accreditation.
    Had they not been hasty with it then maybe...

    6.stop blaming the government for your schools shortcomings. You had the opportunity to transfer to spartan when they got initially denied by CAAMHP but you chose to stay.

    (10)(45)

    • It's sad that you can't seem to be able to understand what is being said.
      I didn't see anywhere in the letter that the person thought it was all glamor and a job was guaranteed, read it again, the issue is they're being told the degree is useless.
      The issues with ECFMG are BECAUSE the government said no. How did Spartan say in operation for so long without accreditation (which they only got in 2013), because the government allowed them to.
      They didn't say it took 40 years, they said almost, look at it's age, it's 37 years old and only 4 years ago they got PARTIAL accreditation. I don't see the person blaming the government, they're asking if there is a solution.

      (53)(0)

      • You clearly have no clue with what went on. You should research on the old owners of this school and how they're not new to the island and how they've had failing schools all over the Caribbean. Why would u go to a new school that just pop up? I did and I transferred as soon as I realized.
        Why blame the government when students had been warned from 2015 from the time the school failed accreditation?
        The student should just go to Antigua with the school.

        (2)(2)

    • You could've been a lot less condescending with that, don't you think?

      Put yourself in a young student's shoes and have some empathy. How many schools here are even accredited? Nobody talks about this, the issue has had almost zero spotlight over the years and yet here you are you're talking like its expected that they would be knowledgeable about all the nonsense that is being tackled right now.

      (35)(1)