Minister of Education, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites, says a solution is in sight for students facing difficulties in financing their tertiary education.
He made the announcement while addressing the opening session of the 20th Conference of the Association of Principal and Vice Principals held October 11, 2012, at the Bahia Principe hotel in Runaway Bay, St. Ann.
The development follows a meeting held earlier in the day, involving the Minister and other Government officials and heads of financial institutions.
Rev. Thwaites said that while more discussions are to take place, “some very good ideas… to deal with the short, the medium-term and the long-term funding of tertiary education, finally are on the way.”
The Minister’s announcement comes amid reports that students at some tertiary institutions were facing the prospect of deregistration due to nonpayment of tuition fees.
Rev. Thwaites told the meeting that the heads of the financial institutions understand the need for extraordinary measures to assist at this time.
“I trust that society will hold us to the exercise of our wisdom in order that we may deal with this problem. We cannot allow those students to fall by the wayside, because they are poor. The universities and colleges have their cash flow to manage, and effectively, what we have been saying to them, and gaining their support, is that they must hold strain with these students while we try and work out something for most of them,” he stated.
The Minister assured that when Jamaica reaches an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Student Load Bureau (SLB) will be better capitalised to provide the required funds for loans it has approved, as it and other agencies will once again be receiving funds from international support organisations.
He said that in the meantime, the Ministries of Finance and Education “are doing everything to find any available funds so that we can offer loans to such students without the rigor of guarantors… and on terms which are both prudential and are accessible.”
The ultimate imperative, Rev. Thwaites said, is to keep these students in their courses. “They have stayed in school rather than getting pregnant or go on the street corner. They studied their books rather than played on the social networks or watched other diversionary television. Their parents have struggled to bring them this far, and this (turning them out of school) would be a reproach to the entire endeavor to which you, among so many others, have given your lives and careers,” he told the educators.
He stressed that the financial institutions are “seized of the necessity” to assist, as “they realize that educated people at the tertiary level will provide stable employees, good customers, and investors in their own time.”