Financial Secretary, Dr. Wesley Hughes, says consideration must be given to implementing measures, outside of state funding, to increase the opportunities for more Jamaicans to access tertiary education.
Speaking at the 49th annual Carreras Limited tertiary scholarship awards at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston, on Wednesday, October 5, Dr. Hughes said there is “growing concern” about the country’s ability to fund tertiary education on a sustainable basis, given the economic challenges the nation faces.
Underscoring the need to address the situation, he suggested the expansion of endowments, noting that several institutions already have this measure in place. He said that businesses must find novel ways to identify employment options for students, to enable them to fund their studies.
“I understand that there is one institution that is already putting in a call centre… (to) allow students to work, earn money, and help to pay their fees. This is a creative and novel way, and we can expand this,” he stated.
Dr. Hughes also cited the need for parents to commit savings for their children’s tertiary education. “It’s an investment for their development, and for the society’s development,” he stated.
Another option, which the Financial Secretary highlighted for possible exploration was what he described as the “transferability of innovations”, citing the voucher system, as an example. He also said that more resources must be re-routed from administration to funding the delivery of education.
Turning to the government’s committal of more resources into early childhood education, Dr. Hughes said this should not be deemed as any move by the administration to abandon tertiary education, but rather an effort to consolidate preparations for youngsters’ matriculation to secondary and tertiary institutions.
“If we succeed in doing that, then, in another couple of years, the numbers coming out of the secondary education would be even greater, and therefore, the number of spaces that we will have to create for tertiary education, will be even greater. So, by funding early childhood education and improving access at the secondary level, we are ensuring that there will be greater need, greater opportunities, greater investment opportunities at the tertiary level,” Dr. Hughes contended.
More than 45 scholarships and bursaries, valued over $2 million, were presented to students attending the universities, teacher training colleges, and community colleges islandwide.