Three senior prison officers have been suspended from all duties from the Port-of-Spain State Prison, Frederick Street, in relation to the July 24 jailbreak.
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12,000 students denied GATE funding
A total of 12,218 applications were denied funding through the Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses (GATE) programme over the period 2008 to 2011. Of that number, 4,616 applications were due to poor academic performance; 6,293 failed to complete a prior programme; 784 exceeded maximum funding and 525 repeated a programme or level that was not allowed or additional information was required.
This was revealed in the final Report of the Standing Committee on the GATE programme—Securing and Expanding the GATE Programme. A source close to the committee said the GATE Clearance Policy introduced in 2008 detected several occurrences of student misuse of the GATE programme. Close to $10 million was reimbursed by students for about 3,000 grants for incomplete programmes.
Quoting from the report, the source said: “Students with incomplete programmes are required to reimburse the Ministry of Tertiary Education and Skills Training (formerly the Ministry of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education) all monies paid on their behalf for said programmes, or pay tuition fees for a portion of any other approved programme they wish to pursue.
“Students who attend public tertiary institutions are exempted from the GATE Clearance Policy, as these institutions are expected to act in the best interest of the State and to closely monitor students’ academic performance. “However, there has been growing evidence of weakening student performance in the public tertiary education institutions which suggests the need to introduce an assessment mechanism for eligibility towards continued GATE funding,” the source said.
Tuition fees at approved local private tertiary education institutions increased from an average of $7,940 per student in 2007 to an average of $13,031 per student in 2011. The average cost for funding a student enrolled in a GATE-approved programme at a private tertiary education institution increased at an average rate of 13 per cent per year for the 2007 to 2011 period, far exceeding the average inflation rate of 9.2 per cent over the same period.
The source revealed that $41 million in funds were recovered from private institutions and that this amount was equivalent to a substantial four per cent of GATE disbursement to these institutions.