Former Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh, said government’s new scholarship could undermine the integrity of TT’s education system and so should be condemned.
His comment follows the drastic cuts to the scholarship programmes on Friday.
In her announcement on Friday, Education Minister, Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly announced a cut to the national scholarship programme, reducing the number of annual scholarships from 400 to 100. She said cognate groupings were expanded to ten segments, with scholarships to be awarded to the top ten students in each group.
A National Bursary Programme was also introduced for 500 local students who got at least eight ones and twos in their Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE).
These students who were not awarded a national scholarship would also receive 100 per cent GATE funding for study at a local institution. But, here is the caveat, in order to qualify, students would have to complete a means test, be involved in extra-curricular activities or contribute to their community or the country, and their courses of study must align with “priority areas of development.”
Gopeesingh, via a release, said “The Ministry of Education has, however, not given the public any statistical or data-based information/findings to give reasons for this sudden change to its policy. It has also deliberately failed to provide any explanation as to what criteria it will now use to determine how the scholarships/bursaries will be awarded, and to whom, under this new policy.”
He said “The fact is that students who wrote CAPE (Year 2) examinations this year – approximately 4,500 – are still querying their final grades from CXC. Their expectations of receiving scholarships in certain groupings are now being unfairly and possibly illegally dashed under this new policy.”
He questioned if it was a “dangerous and underhanded PNM political plot” where scholarships would be given without any testing or examination process, and claimed it was political mischief to serve the ruling party’s agenda as the distribution could be open to political discrimination, bias and inequality.
“The fact is that education and human capital development are the cornerstones of any civilised and developed country. Such a drastic reduction to TT’s education expenditure will indisputably take our country backward.”
He said instead of “robbing students of their future promise of progress and development,” the Rowley administration should stop wasteful and corrupt expenditure in other areas of the administration.