Even with enrolment at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus on the decline, a former principal who supported Government’s decision to stop paying tuition fees for Barbadian students is sticking by his position that it was a wise move.
Jeff Broomes has insisted that Barbadians must help pay their way after being given a hand up by Government.
He addressed the issue as he delivered the Democratic Labour Party’s lunchtime lecture on Contemporary Challenges to Barbadian Education.
Since September 2014, students have been required to pay their own tuition fees, which account for 20 per cent of a UWI education, while government continued to pay the larger 80 per cent in economic costs. University officials have reported a drop in enrolment figures since then.
“We were spent on, and we must now pay back,” Broomes said, in reiterating his support for the decision. “Government does not and will never again have the resources to fully finance education in this country, but it must still be financed. The era of welfaraism has long passed, but the challenge must still be met. Our citizens must now accept that this country has done well in preparing them, and it is now their time to give back in an effort to make it that much stronger and capable to not only compete, but also win on the shrinking global stage.”
He argued that while the provision of free education from primary to tertiary level envisaged by late Prime Minister Errol Barrow was well-intended, funding education has become far too expensive for that to continue.
“We no longer focus on rote learning with blackboard and slate. Technology and other related equipment and materials now impact heavily with great costs. We are already heavily taxed but still fall short of our financial needs. This is a clear sign that Government cannot be the sole answer,” Broomes contended.
He said that Barbadians have grown accustomed to entitlements, but with Government now in more than $200 million debt to the UWI, citizens need to take their heads out of the sand.