PM: Education is something we don’t skimp on
October 19, 2010
PM: Education is something we don’t skimp on

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has refuted claims that students were barred from the classrooms as a result of his administration’s non-payment of fees to the University of the West Indies (UWI).{{more}}

Gonsalves, speaking via telephone from Qatar on Wednesday, October 13, commended Nicole Bonadie-Baker, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education for bringing clarity to the matter.

Baker, in an article in the Midweek edition of SEARCHLIGHT (October 12), said that the action was taken at the Cave Hill Campus because some students failed to provide proof of payment.

“This happens at the beginning of every new school year when students do not sort out everything with the Ministry of Finance and the University,” Gonsalves explained.

He said that it was Government’s policy to pay for a student’s second year only after it received transcripts to indicate that the student had passed the first year.

“Your name isn’t going to be on the list unless everything is in order,” the Prime Minister said.

Gonsalves used the opportunity to speak out against claims being made by Opposition Leader, Arnhim Eustace, who has been saying that the Government owes the UWI over $13 million, due to non-payment.

“The Opposition shouldn’t be talking about education. It’s nominal and we all know the record and when people see the record, the more they know the Opposition are telling lies,” he said.

The Prime Minister said that when his party got into office, the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) owed $8 million in arrears over a four-year period.

He said that his administration paid $2 million a year to cover the previous administration’s debt and that they are currently paying some $6 million a year, because the present government is offering more assistance.

The money is budgeted for and, according to Gonsalves, special warrants of $1 or $2 million are made available to cover university costs.

“Education is something we don’t skimp on,” the Prime Minister said, admitting that there were limited resources.

He gave a listing of the assistance being provided to students, which included seven tuition scholarships of $30,000 each to the Trinity Medical School; 60 tuition bursaries for universities and 20 science bursaries worth $20,000 each.

The Prime Minister noted that since 2002 the government has been financing a student loan programme which has totalled $32 million to date. He added that his administration has also financed student loans for the economically disadvantaged at a cost of $55 million.

“All this happened so easily that people tend to forget,” Gonsalves said.

“We have a record that is impeccable,” he contended. (DD)