OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar slammed Government’s cut of the scholarship programme from 400 scholarships annually to 100 saying all of this took place when they could still find $23 million to outfit a building in St Clair rented to the state by relatives of Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.
At a virtual briefing on Friday – hours after Education Minister Nyan Gadsby-Dolly announced the scholarship slash – Persad-Bissessar said, “Cutting this is a tremendous blow to the young people. It is most unfortunate, disgraceful and shameful.”
She urged government to reconsider the cuts which she dubbed “a totally backward move.” Persad-Bissessar said such educational assistance is needed to help TT’s youngsters in their career development.
Earlier, Tabaquite MP Anita Haynes urged the Ministry of Education to reconsider cutting its funding for the Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses (GATE) programme.
Haynes, in a press release sent hours after Gadsby-Dolly’s press conference, said the ministry must clarify whether the adjustment applies to all undergraduate programmes, including certificates and diplomas.
“Will students who pursue their undergraduate degree through a series of shorter programmes receive continued funding until they attain full qualification or will only one such course qualify as their undergraduate GATE funding,” Haynes asked. She called on government to revise its decision to stop GATE funding of postgraduate programmes.
“Tertiary education has become mandatory for many entry-level positions,” she said. “In order for our citizens to earn and develop skills to be competitive in an increasingly demanding job market, we must have access to higher education.”
She said while there is a need to restructure and streamline GATE, it should be done in a way that does not hurt students and young professionals.
Haynes urged government to include tertiary-education stakeholders in consultations to establish a “gradual transition to more sustainable funding.” She said the policy adjustments call into question the sincerity of the PNM administration’s commitment to creating better lives.