Mara speaks on UWI issue
Mara Thompson has a vested interest in what happens at the University of the West Indies.
As the mother of two undergraduates who are studying at the Cave Hill campus, the St John Member of Parliament said she has had a long association with the institution and said she fully subscribed to its educational revolution and appreciated what was needed in its reshaping.
In her contribution to the Budget debate this morning, Thompson said some of the most vociferous commentators on this year’s budget were employed at the UWI.
Stating that the lion’s share of the budget allotted to the Ministry of Education was assigned to the UWI, Thompson said there were some anomalies that needed to be weeded out to promote greater efficiency.
She cited cases where students are enrolled at both the Barbados Community College (BCC) and UWI, with both being paid for by Government. Thompson also gave an example where tourism studies at the UWI was taken in at least five parts, with only two people enrolled on a course in some cases. She said that some of the programmes could be merged.
Speaking to the need to act in the national interest and not for partisan gains, Thompson said she often wondered whether the UWI had not “jumped the gun” in pronouncing a graduate in every household without doing the math.
“I’ve often heard it and asked what about ensuring that we deal with the real hard issue of those thousands of graduates every year from five years of secondary school, still unable to gain any certification to the world of work?” she said.
She also raised the issue of the thousands who are turned away from the BCC on an annual basis due to a lack of space, and the hundreds who are asked to share lab space at sixth form schools.
“The time has come for the Minister of Education to relook and examine the hole in education, which is getting bigger and bigger,” Thompson said.
According to her, that hole constitutes those who are falling through the cracks because of the desire for one graduate, rather than ensuring literacy in every household.
“We must take stock Mr Speaker, as action is required to rescue our human development,” Thompson said. (YB)