Ronald Jones, Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Education and??Human Resource Development, addresses teachers at the opening of the one-year training programme at the Erdiston Teacher’s Training College yesterday. (A.Miller/BGIS)

The notion of entitlement must disappear!

This was stressed yesterday by Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones, as he addressed teachers attending a course at the Erdiston Teachers’ Training College.

While indicating that the world would never be the same again, since it was encountering "stress" and "stressors in the provision of education", Minister Jones noted that it was the same in Barbados as across the Caribbean, the United States, England, Greece and Portugal.

"We built a foundation formulated on certain premises and beliefs that we are going to be able to provide education free of cost, at source to all of our people from cradle to grave.

"That notion now is being dismantled as a result of the global economic recession, where we still have?? all the structures that?? we have had historically before in place, in a situation where the revenue capacities of Governments, including?? the Government of Barbados is no longer there and will not come back for a long time," he said.

Referring to the recent riots in London, as a result of a hike in educational fees, Minister Jones added: "I am saying to you we have not as yet made that decision." He disclosed that it currently cost the Ministry about $8,000 for a nursery school child per year, approximately $4,000 for one primary school child and in the region of $5,800 to $6,000 per secondary school child, per year".

The Acting Prime Minister stated: "Now that seems small when you apply it to one child but when you multiply that across 25,000 children primary/secondary [then] you understand the global impact."

Turning attention to the University of the West Indies, Mr. Jones said in the Faculty of Humanities and Education, this would cost around $28,000 a year, per adult; and this could prove the same when applied to the Social Science Faculty and might go to approximately $30,000 when extended to the Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences, and a little more in the Law faculty.

While noting that the cost for a student in the Faculty of Medicine was about $65,000 per year, for the first three years, the Education Minister explained: "And, after that where you go into your clinical it goes to about $80,000…. and, therefore, if you use medicine as an example, where you spend about five years… it may be $400,000, of the resources, once you are sponsored by the State, to educate that one doctor. And, what is the commitment of that one doctor to the free provision to the society?"

Mr. Jones pointed out too that when examined against the cost of a student in the Faculty of Humanities and Education for three years, this would roughly cost $100,000. He stated that 95 per cent of Barbadian families could not afford that type of money, in a three-year stretch, and he contended that there were some people in Barbados who took these things for granted, believing them to be an entitlement.????????

The Acting Prime Minister concluded, therefore, that a new model had to be introduced. He stressed: "So, we have to search for a funding model for education in Barbados, because we have a philosophy which should not be damaged. But, we must search for a funding model which says that there must be major state participation in education [and] which says that the individual too must make some contribution to their education."


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