Our public investment should be contingent on a promise to come home!
by BFP Reader “JJ”
Minister of Education Ronald Jones officiated at an awards ceremony last Tuesday where he congratulated the National Development Scholarship winners.
Many of these scholarships are major investments for Barbados with recipients being funded for three or four years of higher education abroad in London and the USA. One young fellow will be studying engineering in Taiwan for four years. The paper said the total for this year alone is $1.7 million and that is no small change. (Ed: Nation story here)
“As it now stands, the newly graduated engineer and his friends can take their taxpayer funded degrees, settle down in London or Los Angeles to make a life for themselves and never give another thought to Barbados.”
Although the Minister urged the scholars to return to the island and contribute to its continued development, this is entirely optional. I think it’s time to make this return to Barbados a formal contract obligation with major scholarships.
The Minister made the statement that Barbados is funding education in areas where we lack personnel: business intelligence, statistics, theatre management, disaster management, paediatric cardiology, education policy and planning, language pathology, gerontology, copyright law, archives conservation, urology and environmental engineering.
That is the purpose of our public funding of this higher education abroad, so I think it is only fair and wise that we demand four years in return from the beneficiary of any major scholarship. Once they have served their four years living and working in Barbados, they would be free to go abroad, but the hope is that the young professionals will settle down in Barbados and in so doing help in the development of their country.
This is only fair if tax-payer monies are funding major studies. Without a formal commitment, these scholarships are just another free giveaway that we cannot afford. With a formal commitment, the scholarships become a true investment in the future of Barbados.