This debate must be had now

Published: Sunday | October 7, 2012 Comments 0

THE EDITOR, Sir:

The perennial issue of funding tertiary education has once again been firmly thrust upon the front burner of socio-economic events by the dark clouds of anxiety which now engulf the tertiary education landscape.

The clouds started to gather when revelation earlier this week by the executive director of the Students' Loan Bureau, Ms Monica Brown, sent a seismic shock wave throughout the lecture halls and classrooms which dot the campuses of our nation's tertiary institutions.

The statement has directed the searchlight of national scrutiny on the current operations and future viability of the critical loan agency.

It goes without saying that thousands of Jamaicans, both young and old, depend on the financial facility provided by the SLB for funding higher education. It has been made plainer that the financial viability of the institution is seriously imperilled by a number of factors, including delinquent borrowers and administrative deficiencies. One cannot help, therefore, but lend a listening ear to the depressing voice of anxiety which suggests that this mars the horizon of national development.

The calls for reform of the operations of the bureau have thus fallen on deaf ears. These calls cannot remain unrecognised for much longer.

Raindrops may have been felt when subsequent news surrounding the potential deregistration of student-loan beneficiaries surfaced. This is particularly disheartening, as no student who genuinely aspires to further personal and national development by engaging in higher studies should be forced to submit to the humiliating act of being dislocated from studies.

It is with this in mind that I call for a comprehensive document outlining the funding of tertiary education in this country to be debated and drafted, as we must, once and for all, decide on how we intend to finance tertiary education going forward.

This debate must be had now, or we risk returning to this very same place next year this time.

NOEL MATHERSON

noelmatherson@gmail.com

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