Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, says with the new imperative of the global economy, all young persons in the Caribbean should have a pathway to the highest level of education.
Addressing the Fifth Caribbean Youth Leaders’ Summit at the Jewel Runaway Bay Beach and Golf Resort in St. Ann on September 30, Senator Reid said while he is cognisant of the financial constraints many countries in the region are facing, there is absolutely no substitute for a good education.
“This is why as Minister I have been trumpeting free public education up to the age of 18. I have also been an advocate for full public education up to Grade 13 for all our youth… not just a few. Also, we have been championing training and involvement activities,” he said.
Senator Reid emphasised the importance of structuring the education and training system in such a way that young people can find entrepreneurial opportunities as well as the jobs that are emerging in the new economic and technological paradigm.
“There must be opportunities for participation, representation and advocacy. We must also look at sustainable development and its impact on climate change, financial policies and their specific impact on youth and youth programmes, concerns about accountability and transparency in government and public life, and the financing of public tertiary education,” he said.
The Minister said it should never be forgotten that for many years only two per cent of students in the English-speaking Caribbean went to a university.
“With the new imperative of the global economy, despite the concerns over the financing of tertiary education, we have to ensure that all our students get the opportunity to achieve their goals,” he added.
The Minister said the issue of how financing will be provided must be discussed, suggesting that student loans will have to be structured in an affordable way, so that paying back the loans will not be a strain on the pockets of the borrowers.
Senator Reid added that the issue of brain drain must also be looked at seriously, arguing that many countries in the region are losing some of their best talents to countries that are offering better opportunities.
Photo: Garwin Davis