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Jamaica needs more tertiary graduates - Holness

Published:Friday | August 19, 2011 | 12:00 AM

Sheena Gayle, Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

Jamaica is trailing its Caribbean partners in the output of tertiary students, a trend that Minister of Education Andrew Holness is concerned about and wants to address.

"When Trinidad is having one tertiary graduate per household, Jamaica is still struggling to produce one high school graduate per household. Jamaica has a far way to go," Holness revealed at the Rotary Club of Montego Bay East scholarship presentation in the Second City recently.

The Rotary Club of Montego Bay East raised some $1.5 million towards assisting students in realising their dreams of becoming university graduates. The annual Bikeathon event organised by the club along with individual donors and companies financed the effort that will see 11 awardees benefiting.

"The Government does not intend on shifting expenditure from tertiary education as it is of critical importance to the development of the economy. But the way in which government funds tertiary education has to change," Holness stressed.

Reduce subsidy

The education minister came under fire last year when the ministry announced its intention to reduce government's subsidy to universities, in effect making tuition fees much higher for students.

"The infrastructure for the provision of tertiary education is expanding in Jamaica and outside of direct government subsidy (with the advent of several universities)," the minister noted.

"We also see that our students have the ambition to go on to higher education but we want government subsidy to be aligned to supporting the country's economic development."

Meanwhile, president of the Rotary Club of Montego Bay East, Hermes Madu, stressed that Jamaica could not afford to have children who can achieve fall through the cracks because financial support to fund their education was lacking.

"We cannot wait on the billions of dollars from Government in order to help. We (corporate Jamaica, members of the diaspora and citizens) have to find a way to help a child reach the potential. Everyone needs to put their hands in and help," he declared.

sheena.gayle@gleanerjm.com