Put more into tertiary education, senator begs

Put more into tertiary education, senator begs

Observer staff reporter

Monday, August 19, 2019

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Bemoaning the high cost of tertiary level education, Senator Charles Sinclair says Goverment needs to identify additional financial resources to assist students.

“It is something that the Government has to look at, I am certain, in a more particular way to find a way that can provide additional funding for persons attending tertiary institutions,” remarked Sinclair, who is also councillor for the Montego Bay Northeast Division.

“There has to be other types of funding that become available to assist persons to ensure that they get through this step, because education is important,” he continued.

Speaking at the St James North Western Constituency Development Fund (CDF) Education Grant Award Ceremony in Montego Bay on Thursday, Sinclair recounted his experience with a fully-funded university ride in the 1980s.

“When I went to The University of the West Indies I was told that we were amongst the privileged five per cent of people throughout Jamaica that would attend university... And, at that time, I went through all my years at the University of the West Indies, went to Norman Manley Law School, and never paid a dime. Never paid one earthly cent. It was funded all by the Government,” Sinclair remarked.

“Obviously, with the challenges which the economy has faced over a period of time, there were changes, and so we have situations where it has become even more challenging to the persons who wish to attend tertiary institutions,” he continued.

The grant award ceremony was hosted by Member of Parliament for St James North Western Dr Horace Chang at The University of the West Indies, Mona – Western Jamaica Campus.

Chang, through his CDF allocation, provided some 88 tertiary students with grants totalling $8 million. In addition, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security provided some $400,000 specifically for students on the social welfare programme, while the Jamaica Labour Party will be providing an additional $200,000 to assist with back-to-school expenses.

The awardees hail from Norwood, Glendevon, Cornwall Courts, Salt Spring,Granville, Flanker, Paradise, Mount Salem, Adelphi, and other communities in the parish.

“My education grant programme doesn't discriminate against students based on which constituency or community they are from,” Chang said. “Once a child or his or her parents come to the office, my first commitment is not to ascertain where they live, but to see how best I can help them with their schooling.”

While he did not respond directly to Sinclair's plea, Dr Chang said, “It's my firm belief that every child with the ability and will to learn should not be deprived of an education, and I am proud to be a part of a Government that also believes in that philosophy, which is being forcefully pushed by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.”

He noted that no child, especially at the tertiary level, should be embarrassed because of parents' inability to pay school fees, adding that since he started the education grant programme it has produced several lawyers, doctors, educators, nurses and pharmacists who are currently working all over Jamaica.

Sinclair, meanwhile, noted that he is in full support of Dr Chang's use of a portion of his CDF to finance tertiary education, noting that some MPs “do it in a different way”.

“They (MPs) may have the book vouchers, which basically is a small contribution to the acquisition of books. I think it is more meaningfully spent when it is done in the way the Honourable Dr Horace Chang applies it to persons who are in the tertiary institutions, because that is one area where you always hear complaints coming from many persons right across Jamaica; the challenges in funding education at the tertiary level,” Sinclair remarked.

The CDF is a designated funding mechanism for constituency projects that seeks to improve the effectiveness of Members of Parliament. Its main thrust is to promote human and infrastructure development at the community and constituency levels through the establishment of sustainable development projects.

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