St. John MP: Gov’t needs to look at weaknesses in other areas of education

budgetdebate2013marathompsonandjamespaulThere is a gaping hole in education that Government has to fix.

That’s the view of St. John MP Mara Thompson, who said since the University of the West Indies was a part of the problem it could not avoid being part of the necessary solution.

The Deputy Speaker, who is a former teacher, was reacting to the firestorm that has emerged ever since Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler announced on Tuesday that Barbadians attending UWI would have to pay their own tuition fees from next year, as Government looked to cut its financial support to the university by $42 million.

“The time has come for the Ministry of Education to … examine the hole in education which is getting bigger and bigger — those who are falling through the cracks because of the desire to ensure a graduate in every household, instead of ensuring literacy. We don’t want to admit that our people pass through primary school, but yet can’t read or write a sentence,” she said this morning during the Budget debate.

“Change is constant. There is nothing that I can hold on to with certainty, including our fragile existence. We therefore need to design and fashion a long-term perspective of education that reflects the needs and aspirations of Barbadians now and in the future.”

The Government representative also claimed that while a caring Democratic Labour Party administration was trying to be fair to all, including the UWI, there were people, including the Barbados Labour Party and people associated with it employed at the Cave Hill campus trying to cause trouble.

Thompson, who said she now had two daughters attending UWI in Barbados, accused the Opposition of trying to stir emotion on a serious matter and using “reckless language”.

She also referred to “bitter unprovoked attacks” by these individuals, calling it a display of “political poison” and a war on the minds of UWI students.

“I know there are still many persons who work and lecture there. I have spoken to students who report to me about the poison arrows and anti government sermons that are preached on the hill under the guise of lectures and tutorials and I hope it stops,” she said.

Thompson also referred to “this constant pleading with the Barbadian public to reduce themselves to anarchy and protest cannot be in the interest of the national good”.

“I wonder which investor … wants to conduct business or invest when the country is experiencing social unrest. That is why I continue to be baffled by the position of the Opposition,” she said.

“We came to office with a lot of off-the-book expenses which gave a very false view of where the Barbados economy was. I have heard the Barbados Labour Party spokespersons on several occasions attempted to hammer home how they left the treasury and the reserves, as if when they left Barbados was not in any way indebted to foreign interests.

“The social and economic realities are upon our people not because of our decisions as a party but because of the failure of those in the past to think about the future. We are committed as a party not to make the error of the Barbados Labour Party,” she stated.

Thompson said it was time for all Barbadians to “take stock” because Government could not afford to act as if the current difficult economic times were actually normal circumstances. (SC)

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