Free tertiary education for up to 16,000 Barbadians is simply no longer sustainable.
Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite issued this warning to Barbados today in the House of Assembly during the 2015-2016 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure debate.
He said even back in 1967 when free education was contemplated, it had been considered that there would come a time when Government would no longer be able to provide free tertiary education.
“There is no doubt that a small developing country like ours cannot afford to provide all the free social services that we are currently providing. We cannot afford the life that we have been giving and allow Barbadians to believe that it is their right to receive a free house for $90,000. How many houses can the Government give? At this point in time of our history, it is sheer hypocrisy on the part of the Barbados Labour Party not to admit publicly that the time for us to provide the level of free social services that we have been providing has passed,” Brathwaite said.
“We the beneficiaries of free tertiary education owe it to our own children and to Barbados to lay the path for our own children so that the scarce resources that are available are then available for the less priviliged. There is no doubt that there will be always individuals in our society who the country would have to provide for in terms of housing and education, but those of us who can afford to need to provide for ourselves and our children.”
Brathwaite acknowledged that there had been a reduction in the number of students registering at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies following Government’s decision to stop paying tuition fees.
But he suggested that would change.
“We have looked at the experience in other countries. We have looked at the experience in Jamaica, for example, which showed that during the first year as was expected that the numbers would decline. However, by year two and year three when people would have bought in and understand that they need to provide their own resources, the numbers will go back up,” Brathwaite said.
He argued that policymakers’ main concern was those students who left school without certification and then ended up in the criminal justice system.