By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
PROGRESSIVE Liberal Party leader Philip “Brave” Davis knocked the Minnis administration yesterday for cutting scholarship grants and subventions to University of The Bahamas, calling the policy an assault on education.
In a recent interview with Our News, Education Minister Jeff Loyd said “there will be no external scholarships awarded this year only.”
“All ministries and departments have by mandate of the Ministry of Finance a 20 percent reduction in their budget and obviously $15 million, $16 million scholarship budget has necessarily been affected,” he said.
During a PLP press conference yesterday, Mr Davis said slashing scholarship budgets goes against the promise of a governance in an independent Bahamas: to empower people.
“If we are to meet the challenges of the health and economic crises facing us, if we are to be able to seize the opportunities for a better Bahamas, we need to continue and expand that investment in education,” Mr Davis said. “When our country has expanded educational opportunities, Bahamians have made the most of them, responding with determination and ingenuity. Bahamians have started small businesses, built first-class companies, become nurses and teachers, judges and musicians, coaches and scientists.
“We all know how serious our country’s challenges are right now. But no matter how hard things get, we cannot give up on creating opportunities for Bahamians. Sadly, the choices being made by the present government threaten to turn the clock back on all that has been achieved. Even worse, the slashes in our current education budget threaten to slash the opportunities of the next generation.”
Mr Davis said the administration does not understand that education is an investment, not a cost. He called “cuts of over $16.1 million” to University of The Bahamas savage, saying they are cuts on top of previous costs.
“And, as is typical of this government, the cuts have been imposed without consultation with the officials of the university,” he said. “This is not wise. Our policy position is very clear. There should be no budget cuts at the University of The Bahamas. These cuts undermine the continued viability of the University of The Bahamas.”
He continued: “And why is the government cutting the public scholars programme, frustrating the aspirations of the next generation of students? The arithmetic is plain for all to see. Massive cuts in scholarships and funding for the University of The Bahamas will deny thousands of students a tertiary education. This is not only regressive, but totally reprehensible. Only education and training can power our growth and resilience. Instead, the government is moving in the opposite direction, hurting young Bahamians in ways that are likely to last long past this current crisis.”