No Governmental Administration has the right to dismantle the Barbadian system of “free” university education at the University of the West Indies, without first obtaining the approval of the Barbadian people through a national vote in a referendum!
The Freundel Stuart-led Democratic Labour Party Administration was totally out of place when their Minister of Finance, Christopher Sinckler, announced in Parliament that from next year, 2014, the system of “free” university education would be no more and that Barbadian students would be required to pay the full cost of their UWI tuition fees themselves.
They were totally out of place because the system of free university education at the UWI is one of the fundamental pillars of the very structure of the Barbadian nation, and no mandate has been given to Stuart and Sinckler by the Barbadian people to make such a fundamental change to the very structure of our nation.
Barbados has just gone through a general election, and at no time during the course of that election campaign did the Democratic Labour Party indicate to the Barbadian people that they were proposing to institute such a fundamental change to the structure of our nation.
In fact, they did just the opposite — they suggested that it was the Barbados Labour Party that was threatening the social rights of the Barbadian people, and that a vote for the DLP would be a vote to preserve social rights such as the right to free education at UWI.
Therefore, to come now and to seek to inflict such a major social change on the unsuspecting people of Barbados is an in-excusable act of political treachery!
The Clement Payne Movement is therefore demanding that this matter be put to a nation-wide vote in a national referendum!
A referendum is the correct instrument for determining this matter because free education is one of the two fundamental “articles of faith” of the Barbadian people and nation.
Ever since our attainment of Independence we Barbadians have had two national articles of faith that have set us apart from all other Caribbean nations, and these are that the Barbados dollar should be permanently pegged to the US dollar at a ratio of two to one, and that the cost of educating the citizens of Barbados should be borne by the entire society rather than being left on the shoulders of the individual student and his or her biological family.
No Government is entitled to discard or change either one of these two articles of faith without first getting the approval of the Barbadian people.
I now hereby call upon Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to commit his Government to subjecting their proposal to start requiring Barbadian students to pay the UWI’s tuition fee to an up or down vote in a national referendum.
I now also hereby urge all of my fellow Barbadian citizens to raise their voices and to demand such a referendum. The Clement Payne Movement will start mobilising popular support for such a referendum at a meeting which is scheduled to be held at the Clement Payne Cultural Centre on Sunday August 18, 2013 at 5 p.m.
— David Comissiong
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