Knowledge Zone Curacao

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Development UNA-vision in theme of synergy

The new academic year at the University of the Netherlands Antilles (UNA) was heralded yesterday entirely in accordance with the tradition. Within this framework, rector magnificus Miguel Goede offered a view on the development of the UNA’s vision for the next ten years.

The vision document is still afoot and internally in consideration; suggestions could be made that will be included in the final elaboration. The idea is entirely in the theme of looking for extensive co-operations, in which the university forms the pivot of a broad knowledge centre.

The vision pursues a bundling of efforts and gearing between various institutes, training institutes and companies within several sectors. The interim document encompasses the integration of existing plans and current courses at the UNA. On the pretext ‘reflection in action’, one aims for implementation about which one can subsequently reflect on. “In order to realize the vision, the UNA will cooperate with all knowledge intensive sectors and institutes, in particular from the Jan Noorduynweg up to and including the Brionplein on the one hand, and the airport on the other hand, so as to create a K-zone (Knowledge Zone). The beauty of the plans is that there are not extra costs. The feedback that I received on the plans until now are mainly positive – exactly because it doesn’t cost anything” according to Goede.
Exchanging knowledge and the facilitating and advancement of transfer of knowledge are the main issue here. Academics, professionals, scientists, doctors, technicians, students, entertainers, artists and the community play an important role with the realization. It is remarkable that also the creative branch is involved with the plans. “The North Sea Jazz Festival was recently organized on Curacao with success and in all probability it will have a sequel. Of course, these are positive development for the island, which the UNA could take advantage of” according to the rector magnificus.

For some time now, the UNA has been in the news regularly in a negative sense due to internal and financial clashes. “What strikes me is that due to this exposure, people are confused as to what the UNA stands for and what one pursues and has achieved. Within this framework, I deem it of importance to give a broader explanation of what has been achieved and how this relates to the plans for the future. What one often sees at universities is that one views ahead only one year, or perhaps longer. This is short-term thinking and in my opinion not visionary enough. The ‘UNA 2020 vision’ covers a period of ten years, in which one anticipates on project developments yet to be implemented. For example, think about the construction of a new hospital, possibly at Groot Piscadera, with which the university of course will seek cooperation. Eventually, the co-operations will have to be interpreted in an economical advantage. For instance, a cooperation already exists with the nurse training IFE, whereby mutual use is made of classrooms. Bringing new life to the medical faculty also has an important meaning here. Within this framework, Mr. Jacob Gelt Dekker asked me to give a speech during the medical conference to be organized in Kura Hulanda on September 30th. In this respect, there is already a question of exchange of knowledge,” says Goede. The fact that UTS has a training centre next to UNA is also considered a possible source of cooperation, in which for example one could give courses in the IT-field and where exchange of knowledge could take place. Goede has also approached the public transportation company ABC to discuss discounts for students. “With a view to permanent development and environmental conservation, we hope to stimulate the young generation of professionals to make more use of the public transportation and in this manner hopefully raise some habituation not to only choose for the vehicle. As regards transportation, we recently negotiated with an airline company on student discounts. Curacao Airport Holding (CAH) has also approached us for a chair in Logistics, and exploratory conversations were held” according to Goede.

Current projects
The UNA recently acquired a UNESCO chair in addition to the existing MCB chair for Good Governance and the Schlumberger chair for Technology and Sustainable Development. A co-operation also exists with Carmabi. USONA is already financing various projects from the UNA, such as the teacher credential program Lofo, and the new-construction of the university. The UNA views Aqualectra as an international knowledge centre in the field of water, which is also a UNESCO-priority. In particular, the rector magnificus quotes Aqualectra’s project at Piscadera, which will be realized by means of the SWAC-system. SWAC is a system that pumps cold seawater from the depths of the ocean to cool buildings. With this, one could save 90% on energy consumption. Furthermore, the UNA has a cooperation contract with TU Delft, Adeko Paramaribo, Aqualectra, waterworks in Surinam, Zuid-Holland and Aruba, and the airport as logistic hub and international entrance to the ‘knowledge-zone’. Within the ‘UNA-vision’ one also considers the construction of the second mega pier in Otrobanda.

‘Focus effect’
In order to start, the rector magnificus is of the opinion that the ‘knowledge-zone’ must be defined clearly and not cover too large an area. “In this, I’m thinking about a focus effect. One could stand outside with a piece of paper and conclude there is sufficient sun to burn it, but one will need a magnifying glass to achieve this. I think that by entering into specific collaborations to realize transfer of knowledge, beginning with a small area, the subsequent affect will spread to other parts of the island. Within the knowledge-zone, I also see shuttles between for example the UNA and Brionplein in which the student’s card could offer advantages. It is common knowledge that the financial sector is mainly concentrated in the neighborhood of Saliña and the Schottegat. I aim for cooperation with this area by means of the ICT. Furthermore, an important moment for the UNA this year will be the completion of the accreditation process. Owing to this, the university will acquire a greater attention both nationally and internationally. With a view to mainly a larger interest of foreign students, a conversation was already held with FKP regarding the possible realization of student accommodation” according to Goede.

Organizations located in the ‘knowledge-zone’ on which one wants to focus, are UNA, Carmabi, IFE, Hospital, Airport, Caribbean University, Aqualectra, UTS, Jacob Gelt Dekker Institute, Luna Blou, La Tentashon, Bureau Telecommunication & Post Offices, Dialysis Center, Cancer Institute, FKP, ABC Bus Company, Kura Hulanda Museum, Soltuna, MCB, Giro, Hagen Design & Strategy, Curaçao Museum, Social Knowledge Centre, Meteo, Blood Bank, DEZ, Naskho, GGD, Extra, La Prensa, CPS, SKO, Z86, Selikor, WTC, TV11, Renaissance, Hilton, Marriott, ACU, ICT Platform, Banco di Caribe, CTB, Chata, SVB, and Usona. According to Goede, the ‘knowledge-zone’ is the living space of the local and international ‘Creative Class’, the driving force of the knowledge economy, and the creative society. “I must indicate though that it only regards an enumeration of a number of possibilities to give the UNA a new position and to grow in quality as well as quantity. We see an important role in store for the UNA in the new country Curacao after 10-10-‘10” according to the rector magnificus.

(Source: National Newspaper Amigoe)

11 September, 2010


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