FEAR not, the Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses (GATE) programme will not only remain in place but will be expanded, Tertiary Education Minister Fazal Karim said yesterday.
Karim made the statement as he sought to allay fears following the recent decision by the Barbados government to stop the financing of free tertiary education in that country.
He made the comments following an orientation ceremony held for first-year students of the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) St Augustine campus.
Karim said “securing and expansion” of the GATE programme was part of the People’s Partnership’s 120-day action plan.
He said this has been evidenced by the inclusion of “technical and vocational training” in GATE financing.
“With respect to the GATE programme, unlike other Caribbean countries, and you would have seen the one recently very close to us which would have really forgone anymore tuition expenses, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, led by our esteemed Prime Minister, insisted that we continue to support the GATE programme.
“All our undergraduates will be fully taken care of in terms of tuition expenses and 50 per cent at the post-graduate level, both Masters and PhD,” Karim said.
“We expect as well in terms of the economic development strategy of the country that programmes will be so aligned to the country’s development and may be considered for future GATE expansion,” he added.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said a significant portion of the national budget may be directed to the education sector.
The budget is set to be read on September 9.
“Very possible (that education may get a significant portion of the billion-dollar budget) because I always believe and continue to believe that education is the passport out of poverty. Education is the key to a better quality of life. I have always been committed and I remain committed to spending as much as we can in our education sector, expanding the sector,” Persad-Bissessar said.