While there is furore in the national sphere surrounding several aspects of Dr. Phillips’ debate, there is one particular aspect which I wish to zoom in on and issue commendations for as a student leader.
The reform of certain SLB loan access and repayment criteria;
1) Increasing the number of persons for which a financially capable individual can serve as guarantor from one to three.
2) Calculating interest on the reducing balance- which will serve to make debt repayment less demanding.
3) Increasing the moratorium period until certain professionals have earned the requisite license to practice.
The measures I strongly believe will serve to diminish delinquency (in the case of the last two) and by so doing, keep the SLB fund “vibrant” as a result of less delinquency.
Though these measures will be beneficial to several students and graduates, they will by no means fully address the problems which we are having in the education system and as such, I reiterate some of the points raised by Member of Parliament Dr. Dayton Campbell to help fix the problems where the tertiary funding aspect of the education system is concerned:
1) Government should serve guarantor to PATH beneficiaries who are desirous of accessing SLB loans. Many are from poor backgrounds and encounter serious difficulties accessing guarantors and as such might never be able to access loans despite the need.
2) Establishment of a National Education Trust (NET) which contributing parents will be able to draw down on when their child/children get to the university level (similar mechanism to NHT).
3) Move away from barring students from exams (tertiary level) and sending them back into their communities unqualified. Instead, it is recommended that a hold be placed on degrees/degree continuation (with the option to pick up at the point of the hold rather than starting over).
Additionally, I believe that the GOJ, the university administrators and the respective student bodies ought to sit down and examine more cost effective measures of administrating the business of the university(e.g. alternative energy) with the hope of hammering out measures which can have a positive impact on the tuition fees.
The measures are by no means exhaustive but a move to implement more of these points will continue the step in the right direction for education.