Government is considering putting stringent measures in place to have scholarship awardees return to serve Grenada upon completion of their studies.
Minister of Education Anthony Boatswain told the Lower House of Representatives in his contribution on the 2015 budget that a major concern is the failure of some of the students who received government scholarships especially those in the medical field to return to the island in keeping with the conditions given for the scholarship.
The elected Member of Parliament for St. Patrick West said this was proving to be a financial drain on the country.
“We are putting those students on notice and those to come that we would be moving vigorously to enforce the terms and conditions of the bond agreement in the future,” he remarked.
The senior government minister disclosed government will put a monetary value to the scholarship and have it converted to a loan and the students who violate the bond will have to repay those loans on completion of their studies.
According to the Education Minister, 236 scholarships have been awarded by governments over the years to scholarship winners at an approximate value of $35M.
However, he is not happy that students in the rural areas are not taking advantage of the scholarships being offered, and that many of the scholarship opportunities in non-traditional country are being taken up in places like China and Mexico.
The minister gave a breakdown of the scholarships on a parish bases.
The parish of St. George’s is in the lead with 42% of all the scholarships, St Andrews 24%, Carriacou and Petite Martinique 14%, St David 11%, St. Patrick’s 6%, followed by St. Mark’s 5%, and St. John’s 4%.
Minister Boatswain said that as a means of providing quality education there are currently 73 teachers who are attending the Teachers Education Department at the T.A. Marryshow Community College (TAMCC), while 200 teachers earlier in the year received training in the area of Mathematics and Languages Arts.
He announced that government has budgeted $150,000 for teachers who will be perusing studies online.
With regards to the issue of the Temporary Teachers, the Education
Minister disclosed that the figure was around 500 temporary teachers
in the system but there are only 200 vacant positions to be filled.
The late payment of those temporary teachers, Minister Boatswain said is also a very thorny issue, and described it as very unfortunate and regrettable.
The education minister also focused on the planned restructuring of TAMCC in an effort to get the island’s premier tertiary institution to achieve higher levels of efficiency, productivity, and to have a more focused curriculum.
He spoke of being satisfied with some of the good performances of the graduates in the CAPE with pass rates in the CAPE exams of 85.5%, Teacher Education with 97.3% and the American Hotel and Lodging Association with a 100% pass rate.
According to Minister Boatswain, if TAMCC is to remain relevant as
Grenada’s primary tertiary institution there must be some fundamental changes to help it to move forward.
During the recent award ceremony of the Grenada Chamber of Industry and Commerce (GCIC), Grenadian-born businessman, Dr. Earl Nicholas Brathwaite who resides in the United States disclosed that he is working on a proposal with government to partner with the Ministry of Education to transform TAMCC into the premier tertiary college in the Caribbean.
Dr. Brathwaite who is the son of former Prime Minister Sir Nicholas Braithwaite said he has already gotten his Alma Mater MacMaster University in the US to partner with him on that project, and they are now working on developing a certificate program for teachers.
He said officials from MacMaster University will come to Grenada shortly to help improve the standards of teaching, as well as help improve the curriculum, with the aim of better preparation of the students to get them into the top universities any part of the world.
The Education Minister also provided Parliament with an update of the functioning of his ministry.
He said that in keeping with the 20-month old New National Party government’s attrition policy, 52 vacant positions have been eliminated from within the service.
He also disclosed that the commitment to move into a paperless environment within the Ministry of Education and Human Resources has begun to reap dividends and they have seen a reduction of $10,000 in the purchase of ink and paper.