The illogical cutback in GATE funding will lead to lasting negative impact on human capital development
The forced shutdown of educational campuses of one of Trinidad and Tobago’s leading private tertiary institutions is a further bleak indication and realization of the unacceptable sharp regression of the education sector under the Rowley regime.
The decision of the School of Business and Computer Science (SBCS) and the expected closure of other tertiary institutions directly result from the sadly, myopic and tunnel vision decision to significantly curtail funding of the Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses (GATE) programme.
This development confirms earlier clear warnings by the United National Congress (UNC) that the haphazard and retrograde slashing of GATE support will severely hurt the country’s education aspirations.
The UNC had advised that investments in education must be maintained if Trinidad and Tobago if it is to achieve its goal of a modern innovation-led and knowledge-driven economy in an internationally competitive environment.
Under the People’s Partnership administration, there were historic achievements in tertiary education, including the development of requisite competencies to meet the needs of an industrialised economy and tertiary participation rates, which increased from 40 % in 2010 to 62 % in 2015.
The visionless Rowley regime has arbitrarily cut back support in all areas of the education sector, displaying a frightening lack of appreciation of the human development needs of this young, island State.
This is also manifested in the virtual abandonment of construction of schools and Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) centres, scrapping of the computer laptop and textbook grants, shutdown of After-School Homework Centres, reduction of the School Feeding Programme and other measures. The illogical cutback in GATE funding will lead to lasting negative impact on human capital development.
There will also be further job losses at the tertiary institutions, adding to the thousands workers who have been thrown on the breadline as a result of retrograde, inept and absent policies and measures of the Rowley regime.
The damage being wrought to Trinidad and Tobago by the grossly inept and incompetent Minister of Education Anthony Garcia will hurt our nation for years, even after the Rowley administration is booted from office.
We call on the government to rethink and reevaluate its position on the education platform, in light of the urgent necessity for a continued thrust for excellence and leadership in the global knowledge based country. This is necessary, particularly when significant gains have already been achieved as a worldwide leader in early childhood education amongst other significant accomplishments.
MEDIA STATEMENT BY DR. TIM GOPEESINGH,
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR CARONI EAST
& FORMER MINISTER OF EDUCATION