Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 5th 2016 Contents GAIL ALEXANDER
While the Heliconia Foundation for Young
Professionals has hailed moves to reform the
Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses
(Gate) programme, Opposition MP Barry
Padarath has warned the move would not only
affect students but also T&T s economy.
The Heliconia Unit in a statement yesterday,
said: "This reform should be the first step in a
radical, wide-ranging and holistic rethinking of
the T&T welfare state and particularly the role
and function of the Government in the economy,
the level of Government spending appropriate for
a proper functioning modern economy and ensur-
ing a more equitable and efficient allocation of
public assistance and social programmes.
The group cited a poll done with students on
Gate between July 29 and August 4. The poll
revealed that of the 371 respondents 91 per cent
were of the view that Gate needed to be reformed.
Other findings claimed by Heliconia:
• 57 per cent believed students should be per-
sonally responsible for paying a percentage of the
costs of their undergraduate education.
• 85 per cent believed students should pay a
percentage of post-graduate education costs.
• 93 per cent felt there was wastage in Gate.
• 54 per cent felt there was "a lot of
wastage", 25 per cent, moderate
wastage and 14 per cent, a little.
• 55 per cent believed Govern-
ment should not fund a student
for more than one programme.
• 66 per cent believed a means
test was necessary.
• 37 per cent believed the Govern-
ment should only fund programmes in line
with T&T s development needs.
• 91 per cent supported Government
providing tax breaks to parents who fund
their children s education,
• 40 per cent supported the State guar-
anteeing loans instead of paying for tertiary edu-
• 61 per cent believed Government should
guarantee employment to recipients of Gate.
• Respondents were split on whether there
were enough people attending university.
Heliconia called on local academia to collect
and analyse empirical evidence to assist with
advancing the discourse on funding tertiary edu-
cation "rather than being passive recipients of
state largesse" and encouraged the
private sector to do more in funding
However, Opposition MP
Padarath said new Gate measures
would have negative effects in two
ways: "With students firstly, since
many of them and their families
depend on Gate for full tuition and
several private academic institutions
will face possible closures since
many of them target persons who
"Opportunities for a better qual-
ity of life are being taken away from
youths. The State should not see edu-
cation as a burden on the Treasury but rather
as an investment in T&T s future.
"Many youths would be forced to cur-
tail their ambitions since the new
restrictions in place do not take into consideration
other expenses incurred by students in the tertiary
education sector, such as accommodations, books,
transportation and homes with multiple people pur-
suing tertiary education"
Friday, August 5, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
RADHICA SOOKRAJ-DE SILVA
Deputy political leader of the Move-
ment for Social Justice (MSJ), Akins
Vidale, says it appears no proper
research was done before Government
decided to cut back on the Government
Assistance for Tuition Expenses (Gate)
In a Facebook post yesterday, Vidale
called on Government to allow students
who were currently enrolled in pro-
grammes to complete their degrees.
Saying the pre-qualifiers caps for
means testing showed a lack of research,
Vidale added: "I agree that those who
can afford should pay but a middle
income family making over $10,000 will
not automatically have means to self-
finance, especially if more than one
person in the home was doing
"To cap the age of
access at 50 also means
we have not under-
stood how pensions
work. The higher a
retiree s contributory
pension, the less we will
have to pay from the cof-
fers for the old age grant."
Calling for Government
to provide research to show
how priority funding will be
aligned with T&T s devel-
opment needs, Vidale asked:
"Who has that document? Can
you please share it? We have a diver-
He said that funding education was
not about freeness and dependency.
"It is a capital investment for
development. We ought to see edu-
cation as a public good and not a
commodity to be bought and sold,"
Meanwhile, despite a decline in rev-
enue caused by falling oil prices, former
minister of Tertiary Education, Fazal
Karim, said there was no need to cut
back on Gate funding.
Instead, Karim believes Gate could
have been further streamlined to allow
students the opportunity to do only one
undergraduate degree free of charge. In
an interview, Karim said it would have
been better to offer Gate to students
who maintained high grades as cutting
back on funding would gen-
erate massive dropouts
from tertiary level pro-
That, Karim said,
would encourage T&T s
crime and poverty rate
to escalate. Karim, who
spent five years stream-
lining inefficiencies in
Gate, said there was no
discussion with him
about how the matter
should be addressed.
Saying the tertiary sec-
tor was important to
Karim said rather than cut Gate, Gov-
ernment should have focused on getting
greater value for money by reducing
duplication of programmes, institution
hopping, tardiness in the registration
and enrolment of students and unac-
ceptable delays in payments to institu-
MSJ: Gate cut a
Heliconia hails reform
suffer by Gate
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