Minister of Education, Hon. Ronald Thwaites, is calling for discussion among all groups in the society, towards the financing of higher education outside of state resources.
Promoting the tertiary education sector as an attractive area for private investment, he said that while the Government is hard pressed to find the financial resources, there is a “super abundance of private capital, which is looking for a useful home,” now that the “extravagant interest rate on public securities no longer exist."
“What could be a better investment than in the upliftment of tertiary education of those who, when they graduate, have the best opportunity of contributing to national development and securing employment, which will allow them to become good customers and faithfully (pay back) the financial institutions,” Mr. Thwaites argued.
He was addressing the opening of Research Day 2012 on January 26, on the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), which was highlighted by the unveiling of a cardiac surgery simulator.
The Minister noted that while the Government remains resolute in providing education for every child and ensuring that no one is denied access because of the inability to pay, “it is equally true that the source of that requirement cannot come entirely from the taxpayer, but must involve fulsomely, every aspect of the society."
“Those parents who can pay, must do so. Financing your child’s education at whatever level is of extraordinary importance, more important than (other) things we spend on,” he argued.
The Minister, in the meantime, urged the UWI to play a more active role in lifting the quality of education in the country, by offering assistance and support, including tutors, at the lower levels of the system.
“It is in your interest to offer that, because the quality of the graduates of our schools is going to directly influence the quality of those who attempt to matriculate into this institution and others,” he pointed out.
Mr. Thwaites further commended the team of researchers from the university, led by Dr. Paul Ramphal, for creating the cardiac surgery simulator. He said the technology is poised to create a global shift in training in heart surgery.
“I want to congratulate the researchers and to wish you well in your partnership with the government in the future,” he said.
Pro Vice Chancellor and Principal of the UWI, Professor Gordon Shirley, said he was pleased to be launching the simulator, which he noted, is one of the more important innovations that have come out of the university over the past several years.
“This device, this innovation, has the capacity to substantially change the way that cardiovascular surgery is taught, but it also underpins the capacity to improve the effectiveness in training young surgeons and in treating cardiovascular diseases, which are among the leading drivers of healthcare cost in Jamaica and all across the region,” Professor Shirley stated.
The simulator allows surgeons and trainees to practise complex surgical procedures under realistic conditions, using a pig’s heart, which beats under computer control.
It is an important manifestation of the UWI research thrust and points to an interest in addressing national, regional and global needs through research. The device has stimulated much interest from the international community and it is in great demand among Ivy League universities in the United States.
The UWI Research Day activities, held under the theme: ‘Promoting Health and Wellness: The UWI Mona’s Innovative Approach’, ends on January 27.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter