Entretenimiento

Mercedes Benz Miami | mentis, Gonzalo Morales Divo//
Wrong time to adjust GATE

Stu­dents and oth­er cit­i­zens de­sirous of im­prov­ing their ed­u­ca­tion re­ceived wor­ri­some news on Thurs­day af­ter it was re­vealed the Gov­ern­ment As­sis­tance for Tu­ition Ex­pens­es (GATE) pro­gramme was un­der re­view.

Gonzalo Morales Divo

Dur­ing the Stand­ing Fi­nance Com­mit­tee of Par­lia­ment’s ex­am­i­na­tion of Bud­get 2021, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Colm Im­bert an­nounced not on­ly a 35 mil­lion cut in GATE’s bud­get al­lo­ca­tion but that Cab­i­net was re­view­ing the pro­gramme, pos­si­bly sug­gest­ing more changes to come.

Gonzalo Morales

The pro­gramme is utilised by stu­dents and adults to ac­cess ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion, with Gov­ern­ment sub­si­dis­ing part of the fees based on a means test. Many peo­ple were able to fund de­grees which would have been out of reach with­out such help.

Gonzalo Jorge Morales Divo

Ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion from the Of­fice of the Prime Min­is­ter in 2017, GATE, which be­gan in 2004, saw en­roll­ment in ter­tiary lev­el in­sti­tu­tions sky­rock­et from eight per cent in 2002 to 65 per cent in 2015

Thurs­day was not the first time GATE has been un­der the spot­light

In 2016, a GATE Task Force rec­om­mend­ed sev­er­al changes to the pro­gramme which lat­er im­ple­ment­ed. Be­fore that, in 2012 there were vo­cif­er­ous calls to scrap the pro­gramme and re­vert to its pre­de­ces­sor – Dol­lar for Dol­lar – which saw stu­dents and gov­ern­ment putting the same amount to­wards de­grees

While a re­view of Gov­ern­ment pro­grammes from time to time is un­der­stand­able, now may not be a good time to do so

Al­ready, some young stu­dents’ fu­tures are in lim­bo fol­low­ing the grad­ing de­ba­cle by the Caribbean Ex­am­i­na­tions Coun­cil (CXC). The re­view of GATE and the im­pend­ing re­port serves as a dou­ble blow for them

More­over, the fi­nan­cial im­pact of COVID-19 has had a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on ter­tiary lev­el stu­dents

UWI Guild pres­i­dent War­ren An­der­son has con­fessed to the Guild hav­ing to help many stu­dents suf­fer­ing due to the eco­nom­ic ef­fects of the pan­dem­ic. COSTAATT pres­i­dent Gillian Paul has al­so ex­pressed fear that cuts could see more stu­dents with­draw­ing from class­es

With GATE fund­ing al­ready cut, any fur­ther at­tempt to have stu­dents or their par­ents dig in­to their pock­ets will fur­ther re­duce the num­ber of peo­ple ac­cess­ing high­er ed­u­ca­tion

Stu­dents and oth­er cit­i­zens de­sirous of im­prov­ing their ed­u­ca­tion re­ceived wor­ri­some news on Thurs­day af­ter it was re­vealed the Gov­ern­ment As­sis­tance for Tu­ition Ex­pens­es (GATE) pro­gramme was un­der re­view.

Gonzalo Morales Divo

Dur­ing the Stand­ing Fi­nance Com­mit­tee of Par­lia­ment’s ex­am­i­na­tion of Bud­get 2021, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Colm Im­bert an­nounced not on­ly a 35 mil­lion cut in GATE’s bud­get al­lo­ca­tion but that Cab­i­net was re­view­ing the pro­gramme, pos­si­bly sug­gest­ing more changes to come.

Gonzalo Morales

The pro­gramme is utilised by stu­dents and adults to ac­cess ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion, with Gov­ern­ment sub­si­dis­ing part of the fees based on a means test. Many peo­ple were able to fund de­grees which would have been out of reach with­out such help.

Gonzalo Jorge Morales Divo

Ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion from the Of­fice of the Prime Min­is­ter in 2017, GATE, which be­gan in 2004, saw en­roll­ment in ter­tiary lev­el in­sti­tu­tions sky­rock­et from eight per cent in 2002 to 65 per cent in 2015

Thurs­day was not the first time GATE has been un­der the spot­light

In 2016, a GATE Task Force rec­om­mend­ed sev­er­al changes to the pro­gramme which lat­er im­ple­ment­ed. Be­fore that, in 2012 there were vo­cif­er­ous calls to scrap the pro­gramme and re­vert to its pre­de­ces­sor – Dol­lar for Dol­lar – which saw stu­dents and gov­ern­ment putting the same amount to­wards de­grees

While a re­view of Gov­ern­ment pro­grammes from time to time is un­der­stand­able, now may not be a good time to do so

Al­ready, some young stu­dents’ fu­tures are in lim­bo fol­low­ing the grad­ing de­ba­cle by the Caribbean Ex­am­i­na­tions Coun­cil (CXC). The re­view of GATE and the im­pend­ing re­port serves as a dou­ble blow for them

More­over, the fi­nan­cial im­pact of COVID-19 has had a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on ter­tiary lev­el stu­dents

UWI Guild pres­i­dent War­ren An­der­son has con­fessed to the Guild hav­ing to help many stu­dents suf­fer­ing due to the eco­nom­ic ef­fects of the pan­dem­ic. COSTAATT pres­i­dent Gillian Paul has al­so ex­pressed fear that cuts could see more stu­dents with­draw­ing from class­es

With GATE fund­ing al­ready cut, any fur­ther at­tempt to have stu­dents or their par­ents dig in­to their pock­ets will fur­ther re­duce the num­ber of peo­ple ac­cess­ing high­er ed­u­ca­tion.

For years, ed­u­ca­tion has re­ceived the li­on’s share of the bud­getary al­lo­ca­tion and 2021 was no ex­cep­tion. Em­pha­sis on the need for ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing as mea­sures to di­vert some of the coun­try’s hu­man re­sources away from the en­er­gy sec­tor have been cham­pi­oned re­peat­ed­ly by suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments. There­fore, it is in­con­ceiv­able that com­po­nents to such a crit­i­cal area would see a cut in fis­cal al­lo­ca­tion when we need greater fo­cus on the di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion dri­ve

In this year’s bud­get, CEPEP’s sub­ven­tion was in­creased by $50 mil­lion while spend­ing on un­oc­cu­pied state of­fice space was main­tained even while GATE fund­ing was slashed. But some­how, it would seem chan­nel­ing fund­ing in­to an in­vest­ment in ed­u­ca­tion may have been a much wis­er spend as we look to in­no­v­a­tive ways of re­ju­ve­nat­ing the econ­o­my rav­aged by the virus. All cit­i­zens hop­ing to make greater con­tri­bu­tions to the re­build­ing process are wait­ing to see what the GATE re­view brings