It is regrettable that education standards are being lowered
Education and training have been the linchpin of successive government programs to prepare Bahamian youth to meet the needs of the Bahamian economy. Not surprisingly, education consumes a large per centum of the government’s annual budget.
However, the government’s decision to pay $2,000 per annum per child for pre-school education for children beginning at age three and its agreement to pay tuition fees of not less than $7,500 per annum for students enrolled at the University of The Bahamas (UB) who maintain a minimum 2.0 grade point average (GPA), means that the investment in education will reach staggering heights.
We are concerned to learn that the government modified its education funding program for UB by abolishing the Bursary Programme and instituting a Tertiary Grant Programme.
This program will pay for students who fall below the academic standard previously required to gain entrance to degree programs at the university or to remain enrolled in such programs.
Prior to this change in policy, students enrolled at UB and receiving government funding would lose the funding if their GPA fell below 2.75 or 3.0, depending on the program, for longer than permitted under the university’s academic probation policy.
Bahamians are rightly proud to not only have achieved the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education in our country but to have expanded that achievement to include universal secondary education. This is so in only a small number of developing countries around the world.
The Bahamas also has a laudable record with regard to initiatives to improve access for increased numbers of Bahamians to post-12th grade technical and vocational training and to tertiary level academic study.
What we have not achieved and what is lamented in both the public and private sectors is an acceptable education outcome for far too many students who leave our school system.
It seems to us that a priority for the government should be to increase the number of good quality graduates able to fill vacancies in our economy which are now filled by international recruitment.
That said, we fully endorse initiatives to increase the number of qualified Bahamians taking part in tertiary level educational programs supported by government-sponsored education bursaries or grants at the UB.
Given financial constraints, of which we are repeatedly informed by the government, and given our slow economic growth, the announced intention to reduce the national debt and balance the budget, it is curious that the government finds this an opportune time to substantially increase expenditure to provide free pre-primary education for three-year-olds and to pay tuition for students at UB who only maintain GPAs of 2.0.
Tertiary grants should go to students who show by their past performance that they have potential to excel in their field of study and to contribute meaningfully to improved performance in our economy.
It is regrettable that education standards are being lowered.