Use an ID number on the application rather than the name of the individual. Who Should Fund Tertiary Education?
Many years ago, our parents’ income were so low that they could never afford to send their children away for higher education. In addition, we did not have any tertiary institutions in TCI. Therefore, many of us depended on the government for funding.
Today, our country economy has change quite significantly for the better and we even have a community college and so as parents we should be in a better position than our parents to invest in the education of our children.
Our present and past governments have always allocated funding for higher education. Today our scholarship budget is roughly more than $4million annually which obviously includes existing and new scholarships. Quite frankly, that is not a lot of money and therefore everyone that applies will not get a scholarship or grant.
I believe that the responsibility of the Government should be to ensure that its citizens are well equipped and educated so that they are able to occupy top positions in the country. However, this does not necessarily have to come through the allocation of scholarships to overseas institutions.
We have a Community College in TCI that is an option for our students to attend. The fees are so affordable. The annual fee for an associate degree is $2000 while the annual fee for the Bachelors degree is $4000. The Community College is also offering programs in conjunction with regional university and also credits are transferrable to schools in USA, UK and Canada.
I also think it is about time Governments stopped talking about wanting to upgrade to a University. We need to act and put a plan in place to achieve this. Yes, it may not happen overnight but let us plan. Once we are able to do, this can solve many of our issues as the Government should not award scholarships to individuals if the subjects can be done locally.
Not all students are academically inclined, I think Government needs to incorporate a technical school in our curriculum asap to accommodate those students offering subjects such as auto mechanic, drawing, plumbing etc. It should be noted that Community College is offering some vocational courses. There are other institutions such as Community Vocational Institute also offering technical subjects.
I believe that scholarships should remained in place for the top performing local students as a reward for their performance. These students should be able to select any school they wish as long as it is accredited.
I know the Government has a list of schools that are pre-approved but who made up this list and how is the list determine. I believe as long as a school is accredited, that is what should matter.
In the meantime, while the Government is focusing on upgrading the TCI Community College or a technical school, then the Government needs to decide its priority areas and aid those applicants. I think priority areas should be teachers, nurses, doctors, plumbers, carpenters, electricians, sports and the careers in the hospitality industry.
With the exception of the top students and needs, TCIG should not be granting scholarships to individuals to study abroad especially if the same course can be done locally at our institution.
The Citizens Responsibility
Our responsibility as parents and guardians is also to invest in ourselves and our children’s education. Rather than depending on Government for scholarships and blaming the Government and the Board for not awarding scholarships or grants to particular individuals, we need to accept responsibility as well.
I know many of us are living of paycheck to paycheck but we need to set aside funding for our children from the time they were born so that by the time they reach college level, there will be adequate funding for our children’s future. (even if this mean sacrificing a vacation from time to time)
We are so blessed in TCI that we have access to full scholarships or grants no matter what. Some countries cannot boast about this but I know many countries do have their universities and so perhaps there is no need.
Scholarship Application Process – Use a Number Process not a Name Basis
I believe that names should be removed from the scholarship application process so that the subjective process of the selection of individuals can be alleviated. I believed that when applicants submit their applications, a number should be assigned to each applicant and the name should be removed and presented to the Board in a summary format of each candidate.
The Board members will be dealing with applicant numbers and not the names of applicant. I am quite sure that some decisions are made based on who we know and your political persuasion. This should not be the case. I reviewed the list of awardees and I can understand why some people are frustrated but by implementing an ID process, the process will be better.
The cut off date for Applications should be March 31st so that students have adequate time for planning. The announcement of scholarships in the month of August is quite unfortunate as it is too close to opening of schools especially in the USA.
We all have a part to play in the education of its citizens. Let us stop blaming Government for everything. Blame ourselves for not setting aside funding for the investment of our children. It is not too late. You can start now.
I think funding of tertiary education should not rest solely with the Government. I encourage the Government to form a working group to have an action plan to consider the upgrade from a college to a University.