TTUTA President Devanand Sinnanan has confirms that the union did in fact meet with Finance Minister Colm Imbert, and recommended a means test as a measure of ensuring equitable treatment with regard to the GATE programme.
Sinnanan said a means test is a method of determining whether someone qualifies for a financial assistance program. “We did in fact meet with the finance minister and we did indicate that we have absolutely no problem with a means test,” said Sinnanan, “we actually recommended that the means test should be instituted.”
However, the TTUTA President indicated that no in-depth planning for the implementation of the test was discussed. “What the honourable Minister said is that he plans to do a comprehensive review of the GATE programme and that he will have to look at all the options available to him.”
TTUTA believes that areas of study supported by GATE should be aligned to a National Development plan regarding priority areas of study. Sinnanan suggested that in areas such as agriculture, the incentive of free tertiary education should be given to those pursuing the field in order to give the industry a boost in human resources.
He said that the Ministry of Planning and Development would be the body to come up with the areas of priority, based on the National Development Agenda of the Government. Depending on those areas identified, Sinnanan said he expects the education sector to become involved. “The whole GATE programme must therefore be in alignment with all of that, rather than the current arrangement where it’s carte blanche and it is just available for everybody who is pursuing anything at the Tertiary Level.”
“Why would the state spend large sums of money on persons pursuing qualifications in areas that are overly saturated and which do not factor in the National development plan?”
The TTUTA President went on to state that his union has also expressed concern at the number of tertiary institutions that have recently been established in the national landscape. All offering programmes that are GATE approved. Sinnanan said that the problem of duplication arises in these instances and that there is the question of the quality of some of the programmes being sub-par. To that end TUTTA said it would also like to see prioritisation regarding the terms and conditions attached to any of the institutions that seek GATE support for their programmes.
“We do agree that there should be a means test, but the Minister said that he is going to get into more in depth discussions on GATE at a later stage.”