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LETTER OF THE DAY - Self-centred tertiary students must be more creative

Published:Tuesday | February 2, 2010 | 2:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

THE GLEANER, through its assertion in the editorial of February 1, stated, among other things, that "the Government should consider creative solutions to help tertiary students", has seemingly expressed the misguided notion that the Government must find solutions to all our problems. But what of the tertiary-level students? Shouldn't they be the ones to come up with creative, innovative ideas and/or solutions to help themselves?

Students at the University of the West Indies (UWI) (and other tertiary institutions) are among the brightest persons in the Caribbean. They are the future leaders of the region, not just as heads of government and politicians, but also through the many behind-the-scenes government technocrats, consultants and professionals who are the real but unrecognised decision makers, and as senior members of the many large and small private entities. Also, UWI churns out more graduates from the social sciences, arts and humanities than science students, a fact that The Gleaner repeatedly bemoans. Thus, they are essentially equipped, at least with the knowledge, to furnish workable, sustainable and plausible ideas instead of just protesting that the Government should not cut the subsidies.

This is simply self-centred and shows a lack of understanding or appreciation of the broader picture. They are not seeing the forest from the trees. They can't reasonably expect to be exempt from the austerity measures being imposed by the Government on the citizens courtesy of the International Monetary Fund.

No obligation

The truth is that the Government has no obligation, beyond secondary education, to provide free or subsidised tertiary education. This arrangement is actually a privilege that is enjoyed by an opportune few given their aptitude for higher learning. The Government has to focus on providing a strong early childhood, primary and secondary education base to ensure a repository of literate and trainable persons from which to supply the workforce. Naturally, some persons will go to universities to further arm themselves with the requisite skills and knowledge to become experts in their fields.

So we expect a higher level of discourse and response from the university students and not just a knee-jerk reaction in the form of a mindless, fruitless protest. The Government has placed its solution on the table, an admittedly unpalatable and uncreative one. But the students should now not simply match wit with the Government but should show their worthiness and pride of place by outrightly outshining it.

I am, etc.,

JERMAINE BORELAND

jirmz@yahoo.co.uk