Social Security gave, TDC gave, Credit Unions, Churches, Civic Groups, individuals and more all gave. They gave scholarships to students entering high schools for the first time. They gave to help defray the high cost of free education to students with aptitude but debilitating need.
At the finish line of high school education, a state scholar and runner up emerged. Others won international scholarships and fellowships to study overseas for Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral degrees. There are also scholarships being refused to far flung places; and yet others studying on-line to accredited and not so-accredited schools. The thirst for higher education appears to be increasing. It has to be, with over 1,000 persons qualifying to matriculate each year. Congratulations and God speed to all. Our greatest export may now be students in search of university degrees!
We do not have empirical data, but we believe that the greatest number of students are self- financing. While this is commendable there is down side: the major source of funding and the most student friendly financial institution limits each student loan to a maximum amount that cannot finance an undergraduate degree. Commercial banks do not have this limitation, but require collateral that often times far exceeds the assets of student and sometimes that of their parents or guarantors.
This situation forces many students into US colleges which allow part time study or allow limited work while pursuing full time study. Mercifully, some of these universities also offer conditional tuition waivers. Yet, some get so caught up in the American way that they do not return, some are forced to drop out; and many have a hard time repaying student loans and so renege.
Meanwhile, back at home, our leaders fiddle. Labour as government used SIDF windfalls to help millionaire foreign “investors” instead of setting up a scholarship fund. Unity is yet to set aside this level of financial assistance although it had opportunity to do so using some of the Sugarworkers/Venezuela money. Surely some of this money could have been used to help children of the sugar workers with low interest educational money!
We now hear that the CBI has been rebranded and is poised to take off again. We do not know how the proceeds will be handled, but if we must sell our citizenship, let us put some of the gains into human development.
Our people are our greatest resource, and the youth are our future. Let us safeguard both.