I am watching the current discussions over university fees in Barbados and it is unfortunate that Mia Motley is using this as a tool against the current Government and stirring up so much discord. It is well known that it is her party that introduced the fees in the post-secondary school system.
The late Errol Barrow stated that Barbadians have short memories, and that is true. Motley is practising the same politics that is currently practised in the United States by the Republican Party, which blocks or tries to block the agenda of President Barack Obama and his Democratic government.
I live abroad but have always promoted my country to friends and colleagues. While I am not a supporter of the Opposition party, I am truly disappointed in their behaviour over the past 15 years and I hope that they will really look at their past and current behaviour through a moral and ethical compass.
Students living in Canada and the United States pay higher tuition costs than what the government is requesting Barbadian students to pay (between Can $50,000 and Can $150,000, depending on the discipline). Students abroad take out student loans, find part-time jobs while in high school and continue those same part time jobs while in full time university.
Also, parents contribute to their children’s education through investment in education funds, be it a bank account in the child’s name with monthly deposits or locked in education GICs. We know that there are group of Barbadian parents who can comfortably pay for the tuition costs and allow the Government to help those who need assistance.
The students in other CARICOM countries have to pay for their education. Nothing comes for free and Barbadian students must realise that it is Barbadians who are helping the Government to pay for their education through taxes, and foreign resources of Barbadian living abroad and international loans which have to be paid back.
My nieces and nephews did not have the advantage of going to college/university before fees were implemented; but they attended and did very well and are currently working and contributing to the economy. I have a second group that will be starting soon, and whatever the costs are applied by the Government, they will go.
Parents have the ability for children who are now entering nursery school to open an account for their children and begin to put at least $10 a month into an account. Any government requires the help of their citizens to manage their resources and ensure that the country is functioning effectively. They cannot do it alone.
As Barbadians we are heading towards our 50th anniversary as nation state, while some Barbadians take two steps forward, others take four steps back in their responsibilities and behaviour.
Barbadians always boast that Barbados is a Christian country; currently the people behave like a secular society and not a Christian society. I trust that the Barbadian students at the Cave Hill campus will stop letting the Opposition party stir up strife, do the right things and hold a meeting with the Government in charge. University is where you gain knowledge, and knowledge leads to wisdom. The students need to exercise that wisdom and speak to the appropriate people in Government– the BLP is not the Government.
Also, the students need to recognise that the BLP will do exactly what the current Government is doing or worse given the opportunity. Barbadians should not be blinded by false promises. Take a look at the 15-year record of the BLP who governed Barbados and left the country in worse condition than when they took over the Government. This Government not only has to fix the damage of the past 15 years prior to winning the election, but has ensured that the nation’s future is secured and stable going forward.
The $200 million in student fees owed to the university for Barbadian student is not solely on the backs of this current Government, but the previous Government has to share the responsibility for the state of the nation. The question that all Barbadian people, including their supporters should be asking Mia Motley and the BLP is to give an account of their 15 years in office.
People should remember that they were in power before the global economic recession, and did nothing to ensure that Barbados maintain some stability. When one governs for 15 years there should be more positive than negative outcomes for the country. Of course Barbados will experience the effects of the global economic recession. Barbadians should be using social media such as Facebook to promote and encourage people living abroad to visit their island, promoting its safety, its beauty and local cuisines. This is how you help the Government, little steps and everyone working together to rebuild rather than engaging in the nasty politics and disruptive behaviour of the BLP.
My prayer is that Barbadians will rise above the discord that the BLP is trying to instil in the people of Barbados and work with the Government to rebuild the economy and the country for current and future Barbadians. I will continue to do my part although I live outside of the country.
— E. A. Wilkinson