The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) has given a strong hint that it will reverse the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Government’s decision to have Barbadian’s pay tuition fees for their university education.
BLP candidate for St Michael South Kirk Humphrey told a constituency branch meeting over the weekend that the children of the poor should never have to pay for their education.
Government introduced tuition fees for university education at the start of the 2014/2015 academic year, and University of the West Indies officials have since blamed a dramatic drop in enrolment on the fees.
Humphrey said he empathized with those who were forced to drop out of school or defer post secondary education because they could not afford it, backing up his empathy with a story of his own hard times while attending university in the 1990s after his mother had lost her job as a bus conductor during the Erskine Sandiford (now Sir Lloyd) administration.
“When I was at university in 1990s it was a very hard time . . . you know when the Dems come in they send home all the conductors [after] Sandiford made the promise nobody wasn’t going home, and then months after the elections nuff people went home [along with] eight per cent cuts [in public servants’ salaries].
“My mother was in that period and I spent a year home looking for a job. I wrote every single application to every single place under the sun, to hear, ‘I’m sorry they are no vacancies’, and because my mother was unable to pay for me during my years at university, I had to struggle. I will never forget it. Nobody should have to go through that,” he stated.
While providing no supporting evidence, Humphrey charged that the abolition of free university education was a long time in coming, claiming that the DLP intended to introduce fees as far back as the 1990s.
He also accused ruling party parliamentarians of shutting the door of opportunity for Barbadians after they benefitted from free education, and described their support for the imposition of the fees as “the depths of the hypocrisy”.
Humphrey again hinted strongly that the BLP would correct what he saw as an obvious wrong.
“This is Grantley Adams’ party,” he said of the BLP.
“When this party emerged in 1938 it was not in good times. If times were good times there would be no Barbados Labour Party. The BLP was birthed in the hardest of times,” he stressed.