EDUCATION MINISTER RONALD JONES MUST TELL BARBADOS WHAT IS PROGRESS ON BURSARIES
Education Minister, Mr. Ronald Jones, has a duty to inform the public of Barbados that his request to his Cabinet colleagues for Government to fund the 3,000 bursaries which he has been speaking about since the middle of April last year has been rejected.
We in the Barbados Labour Party have been very reliably informed that the Cabinet of Barbados has thrown out Minister Jones’ cabinet paper proposing that $3 million be granted to fund bursaries for financially challenged Barbadian University of the West Indies’ students. Mr. Jones in fact on 11th July last year had publicly stated that the funding for 3,000 bursaries had “already been agreed to”.
Hundreds of Barbadian families relied on this Minister’s pronouncements, with students either commencing or continuing their university education in September last year in the hope that they would have been able to access one of these 3,000 promised bursaries. At least 1,800 students applied for this form of finance in August last year, submitting their application forms and requested documentation on invitation from the Education Ministry. However, yet again, Barbadians have been let down by the outright failure of a Cabinet Minister and this Government to deliver what it has promised.
Mr. Jones needs to face the public squarely on this issue if he wishes to salvage any credibility as a Cabinet Minister. This whole fiasco must have serious implications in respect of the public’s ability to trust and to have confidence going forward in the word of this Minister on matters pertaining to educational policy. He can either opt to apologize for the fact that hundreds of Barbadian students and their families have been misled by his pronouncements or he can seek to blame his Cabinet colleagues, as other Ministers have recently done, for his failure to deliver on a promise which he made an essential plank of his ministerial legacy. The question also needs to be addressed as to what is his standing now among his cabinet colleagues?
Minister Jones cannot continue to hide behind his newly found veil of silence on this issue. The future education of too many Barbadians is at stake. The University of the West Indies is about to start another semester. These students have a right to know from this Minister that there will be no bursaries this year or in the foreseeable future.
We anticipate that some students, many of whom may only have a few more months to complete their degree, will unfortunately decide to drop out of the University since they do not have the money to continue in light of this Government’s callous insistence that they pay for their tuition.