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Thwaites: SLB will continue to show preference for science and technology students

Published:Thursday | January 29, 2015 | 1:38 PM
Ronald Thwaites - File

Jovan Johnson, Gleaner Writer



KINGSTON, Jamaica:

Education Minister Ronald Thwaites says the Students’ Loan Bureau (SLB) will continue to show a preference for science and technology students applying for tuition funding.




The government says Jamaica needs more persons trained in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, collectively called STEM areas.



In an interview with The Gleaner in the online current affairs programme, On The Record, which is to be released today, Thwaites said the decision to have the SLB give preference to students pursuing the sciences is a difficult one.



According to Thwaites, persons should be able to achieve their personal ambitions.



However, he argues that given the country's scarce resources the SLB has to give preference to STEM courses to meet Jamaica's development needs.



In 2009, then Prime Minister Bruce Golding stirred controversy when he announced that the Government would have to influence the direction of SLB funds to training in areas where there is a market demand.



He had also instructed the Finance Ministry to come up with a list of disciplines the Government considered to be a priority.



In a debate last year, Government Member of Parliament Dr Dayton Campbell called for the list to be brought to Parliament.



According to him, the SLB should not be giving funds to all students who apply, but instead focus on areas critical to national development.



More than 10,000 students apply to the SLB yearly for tuition loans.



In recent times the bureau, which has a high delinquency rate, has been experiencing problems finding the billions needed to meet demands.



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