Support has come for the Free Tuition programme initiated at the start of the new school year at the beginning of September by the 14-month old National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell.
Principal of the T.A Marryshow Community College (TAMCC) Trinidadian Ronald Brunton in giving support indicated that the free tuition programme will be accessible to all citizens or permanent residents of Grenada, provided that these individuals meet the entry requirements of TAMCC or NEWLO.
Speaking at the official launch of the programme last week, Brunton referred to the policy as being a clear expression of the Government’s recognition of the importance of further education and skills training as the pathway towards youth development and youth preparedness.
He said it helps students who cannot afford tuition payment to be able to attain better jobs and higher levels of education including university and graduate school.
He disclosed that both the TAMCC and NEWLO administration are required to submit records of each student’s academic progress as well as attendance registers to the Ministry of Education every term.
Through this policy of free tuition, the Principal is convinced and confident that this generation of young people as well as those soon to come will be guaranteed a better future.
“It is important to note that beneficiaries of this programme must not have previously attended TAMCC or NEWLO. The exception here of course would be those students who are continuing their program of study entering into their second year as well as those taking courses to complete their programme,” he said.
The TAMCC boss confirmed that while numbers in TAMCC are still coming in, the college has already noticed an increase in student numbers and that prospective students have up until September 22 to apply to TAMCC for a placement.
Brunton promised that the college will advise the ministry on how the Free Tuition Programme can further benefit the country through specialised programmes and short courses designed to address skills shortages in the workforce.
“Indeed the college looks forward to the expansion of the free tuition programme in the near future to encompass adult learners and those students who are pursuing part-time programmes,” he said.
Executive Director of NEWLO, Sister Margaret Yamoah was also present at the launch and recalled previous failed attempts under the past New National Party (NNP) administration of Dr. Keith Mitchell to get funds from the State for trainees at NEWLO.
She indicated that a lot of the time the reason why trainees miss classes is because of money issues.
“At the end of every academic year, we would usually have about 40% of trainees are unable to pay their fees,” she remarked.
Sister Margaret warned that the programme which the government is rolling out does not free parents and guardians from their responsibility to the children but provides some assistance to them.
She appealed to parents and students to take this programme as a blessing and to be happy that tuition is being covered than a complaint about what is not being paid.
“Whatever investment Government is putting in you young men and women today is because they want to see a future for you that helps this nation to grow, develop, and move forward – not a nation where young people become reliant on handouts.”
“That mentality of expecting everything I have to get (to) come from somebody and not work for it, we need to let it go.”
The head of NEWLO felt that it must have taken a lot of meetings and a lot of considerations to decide whether this phase of this project was possible at this point in time.
“To start something like this and not see it through will be a big failure so I believe that they did a lot of work to ensure that this project is sustainable and it is solid,” she said.
Sister Margaret expressed fears of not having enough facilities to accommodate all the students and shared her hope that the government is going to collaborate more with NEWLO to get more facilities so that as students come to register she would not have the displeasure of turning them away due to lack of space.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Elvis Morain disclosed that the full maturity of the programme will see an investment of around 2.5 million dollars from government which is an investment in the nation’s young people.
Morain also mentioned that the NDC government has reached an agreement with St George’s University (SGU) for around 80 scholarships each year.
He said that although the government was unable to get 100 percent uptake, this year, they have acquired a number of scholarships from SGU with Cabinet approving 54 scholarships so far.