Students have no need to fear once ULP is in power – PM Gonsalves
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has promised that once the Unity Labour Party (ULP) is in government, students will never have problems finding money to pursue higher education.
But he also said that the money will only come once students work hard and show that they are taking their education seriously.
The promise came on November 8 while the Prime Minister was speaking at the Villa campus of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College (SVGCC) during a ceremony which saw some 757 students receiving EC$500 each from the government.
The EC$500 is a reward for students who achieved a certain standard in the 2019 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations, the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Exams (CAPE) and the Associate Degrees programs.
Rewarded were CSEC students who gained five passes (Grades I to III) including Mathematics and English A, CAPE students who gained passes (Grades I to V) in at least two two-Unit subjects as well as in the single Unit Communication Studies (or Caribbean Studies) in two consecutive years and students in the various Associate Degree programmes who gained at least a B average.
“University education beckons for every single one of you. I don’t want to hear you ever say, whilst I am prime minister, or this government is in office, that you can’t go to university because you don’t have any money.
“You just get your matriculation qualifications and there are varying levels of support for you,” Gonsalves told the gathering of students.
He noted that the economically disadvantaged student loans program, tuition grants, bursaries, national exhibitions, national scholarships and other scholarships are just a few of the mechanisms in place to enable students to pursue higher education.
He noted also that the government pays the economic cost of students who go to the University of the West Indies (UWI).
“I don’t want to hear any of that kind of a talk. I don’t want to hear you say, those who are listening to me, who in their first year and second year that they may have to drop out because they don’t have any money, rubbish,” the PM said.
The PM said students who run into problems should contact the Ministry of Education and if the Ministry does not address the situation satisfactory, he should be contacted.
“Drop off a letter, put your name and address and telephone number and what the problem is at hand and somebody at my office will get in touch with you to make sure that you have the means to come to the college here and to graduate,” Gonsalves promised.
Gonsalves is also encouraging persons to use the local educational resources before venturing overseas, therefore lowering the cost of getting higher education.
The Prime Minister told students that they can enjoy themselves and they do not have to become “book worms” but they must aspire for top marks so they can get government’s help.
“…get A’s, but you have to put in the work and if you can’t get A’s get B plus and make sure that you reach a standard where it becomes easier for you to get more forms of assistance which you do not have to pay back.
“Imagine you get a university degree and when you finish you don’t have any debt. It means you will be able to pay down on a piece of land as soon as you start to work and start to build you house,” Gonsalves said.
“I want you to know that I am not running away from the deepening and the broadening of the education revolution,” stressed Gonsalves who also asked students to use the EC$500 wisely by investing in things like proper clothing for work.