A senior Government official has stoutly defended the ruling Democratic Labour Party’s (DLP) record on education, telling party supporters that the recent abolition of free tertiary education was nothing to be embarrassed about.
Harking back to his own university experience in Florida, Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy pointed out to a group of party supporters at the weekend that in addition to their degrees, many of his fellow graduates had left school “with tens of thousands of dollars in debt” to repay.
In fact, he said many had spent between ten to 15 years paying back student loans in the US.
“And here it is, we simply are saying, ‘you have to help us meet some of the costs’. The Government still in fact picks up the economic costs, but part of the tuition, we are saying, ‘help us with it’ and apparently, that is rolling back the education revolution of the Democratic Labour Party, and it is not. It is strengthening it,” Sealy argued.
Pointing to two young children in the audience, he contended that “if we put UWI on a better footing financially in these times, it would be there when others are coming afterwards and ultimately that is what the Democratic Labour Party cares about.”
Before a gathering in St Michael East on Sunday, Sealy was also insistent that “we [the DLP] haven’t done anything at all that we need to be embarrassed about with respect to education” even though the 2014 decision by the Freundel Stuart administration on tuition fees has effectively broken its founding father Errol Barrow’s promise of free tertiary education for all.
However, Sealy chose on Sunday to highlight the “good things” which the Stuart government has done, while commending Minister of Education Ronald Jones and his team for “ensuring that we have quality education and other opportunities”. In this regard, the Minister of Tourism revealed that there were plans to double the capacity in the local hotel training school.
However, he did not miss the opportunity to take a swipe at the Opposition Barbados Labour Party, which he said was neither in favour of the education policies of the 60s nor development of the Barbados Community College introduced by then Prime Minister Erskine Sandiford – now Sir Lloyd – which have both proven to be successes.
“I think we have done a good job historically and I don’t think we have in any way relented from the tremendous work that was done by the Barrow and [Erskine] Sandiford administrations,” he stressed.