It is unfortunate that it has gone abroad that the Democratic Labour Party wants students to pay their way through the University of the West Indies.
Attorney General and St. Philip South MP, Adriel Brathwaite, expressed this concern yesterday while making his presentation on the 2013/2014 Budgetary Proposals.
“We have recognised that there is a debt owed to the UWI. We have acknowledged that there is a debt. We regret the extent of the debt. That is not the beginning and the end of the education debate. I think it is very sad that the payment of tuition fees has become a major issue across the country. My mother, who was a school meals worker and a single parent. raised three children. We did not always have adequate food and drink. I remembered that when I finished my Ordinary Level examinations I told her I was going to find a job. Her response was: ‘No you go back to school and continue your studies’,” Brathwaite recalled.
He further recalled that when he completed his courses at the Cave Hill campus, he was encouraged by the late David Thompson to access a loan from the Students Loan Revolving Fund to complete his studies at the St. Augustine campus in Trinidad.
“I do not know why people are so vocal about this issue. I borrowed $25,000 from the Student Loan Revolving Fund to complete my law degree. I can also say that the first car I owned cost more than the money I spent on my education. I
spent more on a depreciating asset than I spent my education which can serve me for the rest of my life. All across Barbados there are accountants and lawyers who pursue external degrees and pay for them. There are company secretaries who paid for their education,” Brathwaite added.
The MP stressed that the Government could no longer continue to underwrite the full cost of the education of students at the University of the West Indies.
“I represent a rural constituency and I would never be part of any policies that would inflict pain and suffering on my friends in the constituency,” he said.
“We recognised and we have said that it is either we take the pain now or we face major surgery down the road. It is like a diabetic refusing to have a toe amputated, but a year later he has to have a foot amputated. That is what we are saying.
“But let me repeat for the benefit of my constituents. I will not be part of any policy which inflicts pain on my constituents unless it is absolutely necessary. So I do not understand the Opposition arguments. In simple terms, there is no country in this world that can on a continuous basis provide free education, free health care and subsidised water. At some point in time reality has to step in and that time for Barbados is now,” the Attorney General warned. (NC)