Opposition Leader 'incensed' at changes to UWI programmes
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said she is "incensed" and "angry" at changes made to the University of the West Indies' programmes in the Faculty of Social Sciences.
Speaking at the United National Congress (UNC) Monday Night Forum at Las Lomas Government Primary School on July 24, Persad-Bissessar said the changes are designed to make it more difficult for part-time study.
"Today I am appalled. I am incensed and I am angry. They are cutting the evening programmes for the BSc in Social Sciences. They are cutting it for the CPA – the Certificate in Public Administration. These are courses where people who were working could take these courses, but they are going to stop it."
She said she saw a document from the University of the West Indies which shows the enrolment rates from 2010 to present of evening students registered for 13 programmes - approximately 27 courses for each programme - offered at the level of the Bachelor and the 10 courses at the level of the Certificate in Public Administration by the Faculty of Social Sciences.
"The figures during the period of 2010-2016 were as follows:
"Fast forward to the “Red and Ready”, this wicked Government, and the enrolment has now dropped for 2016/2017 to 186 students."
"And as if that is not bad enough, they moved to amend the regulations to remove completely now, all evening students. What about all the people who have to work and study? Are they serious? They would disadvantage persons who want to improve themselves and therefore improve this country."
Persad-Bissessar added that she still has not seen the results of the report which conducted by the Ministry on the Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses (GATE).
She added that the increased enrollment rates were seen under the People's Partnership government.
"These people are so brass-faced, bold-faced, and wicked, that they will put out a press release today to talk about “advances made in the tertiary education sector” which says, “While the Government continues to adhere to the mandate of the 2000 Dakar commitment to Education for All, it is important to note that tertiary education participation increased from approximately 8% in 2002 to the estimated 65.23% in 2015.”"
"Who was in Government in 2015? Not this wicked Government. We took that participation rate up to 65.23%."
"They have to understand, that if you are to diversify a nation, you can’t just talk the pretty words, you have to diversify the skills sets, the education levels of our people. Our best resource is our human resource," Persad-Bissessar said.
She added that the move seems targetted to facilitate those who 'have the means to enter':
"Now they are saying you could come in with lesser qualifications. It means then that those who cannot afford to come, the numbers will be less. Maybe those who do not have the qualifications but the means to enter, they can apply. So if you’re rich, but you’re not bright, you do not have the qualifications, we will take you. But if your parents cannot afford it but have the qualifications, they cannot go to University. Donkey logic."
"It shows again that this Government is only concerned about the super elites and the one percent. I call on the Rowley government to stop governing for the one percent and govern for the whole of Trinidad and Tobago," she said.
The UWI said in a statement issued Tuesday that the Certificate in Public Administration (CPA) entry requirement is five O'Levels or equivalent, while the qualifications for entry into degree programmes have not changed.
The university said the change is in keeping with its new strategic direction of widening access, 'particularly to the undeserved'.
The university added that there is 'no evidence' that the fall in offer acceptance is a result of changes to the GATE programme.