Opposition Leader Mia Mottley says that Government’s decision to have students pay tuition fees at the University of the West Indies, is a retrograde step that erases years of progress.
Addressing a Town Hall meeting held in the Roy Marshall Teaching Centre at the Cave Hill Campus last night on the controversial issue, she said education was the avenue people took to lift themselves out of inter-generational poverty.
“What you are defending here today is not just the determination as to whether education at the tertiary level is to be free or not at the University of the West Indies, but it is a fundamental development perspective about how Barbadians long dead and gone passed on generation by generation by generation saw that our opportunity, to lift people…
“By 1937, in 1951, in 1966, three pivotal dates in every instance the majority of people who stood to be educated still within the bowels of poverty.
“In 2013 this Government has told us that poverty has increased in this country and the official poverty line might be 20 per cent but what it has not measured is the line of underemployment and two, the leave of that we call the working poor, not that people may fall below the poverty line but when people meet their obligations, there is literally no other disposable income available to them to meet the needs of their family,” she said prompting the audience to applaud in agreement.
“It gets worse because not only are we throwing out centuries of what mattered to Barbadians, particularly black Barbadians, and not only are we throwing out a development perspective that people must be at the centre of why governments exist in this country, but we are also re-introducing an element into our family relationships that stand to undermine that otherwise ought to be the mission of this generation and your generation,” Mottley said.
That element, stated the Barbados Labour Party leader, was to force parents, even if loans were “made available to determine which child they’re going to choose to guarantee a loan for”.
“[This] has implications far and beyond anything that we can resolve by legislation or taxation because it has implications for the psyche and self confidence and self esteem of those children who had to stand one side to allow the others to go forward.
“Our families and our communities in this country have too many examples of that. Our mission, as I saw it when I came into public life, was to build yes on the economic prosperity to ensure the remaining persons who have not gotten on the train to get out of poverty, get on. The bigger mission … is the rooting of our people in terms of allowing them to like who they see, love who they see and to have a level of self confidence as well as to ensure that their self esteem is not so pilloried that we are unable to be the best that we can be individually and collectively as a nation,” she said. (DS)