Minister of Housing and Lands Denis Kellman wants Barbadians to reduce their dependency on the Freundel Stuart administration.
Responding to critics of the Government’s plan to introduce tuition fees at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus from September, Kellman maintained that the country needed to be more realistic.
Last week, the Students Guild called on the Government to step in and help students who were finding it difficult to meet their financial requirements. They also complained that commercial banks were turning away students who were in critical need of funding to complete their education.
In response, Kellman told Barbados TODAY, “I find it very comical when I hear students talking about that”.
The Minister maintained that residents must be prepared to stand on their own two feet.
“Let us be realistic, in the 1960’s Errol Barrow brought free secondary education, free secondary education is still there. The confusion is whether he said free tertiary education,” said Kellman.
“It is true that he added tertiary education and the confusion is not at free secondary school education; it is still there, that is what we promised,” he said.
Kellman questioned the length of time that Barbadians expected this programme to continue.
“If in 1960 Errol Walton Barrow gave my father an opportunity to educate me, why in 2014 can I still be expecting the country of Barbados to educate my children? I thought what he did was to educate me, to educate my children.
“So when I hear people, especially professionals arguing over free secondary education, sometimes I ask myself, ‘how long can we expect the country to continue to support us, when it would have built the foundation for us to support ourselves and our children?’”
However, he made it clear that government would lend a hand where necessary.
“I am saying those people who fall through the cracks, that the Government must look after. But I think it’s unfair for people to amass riches and still depend on the state. How can we tell people that two years from now, that we are going to celebrate our 50 years of independence and we are still depending on the state and others to support us?” he asked.
Last week Education Minister Ronald Jones announced that 3,000 bursaries would be made available to students in September. while 2,500 students would benefit from the Student Revolving Loan scheme.