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$725m spent on Gate in 2012
The Government spent $725 million in 2012 on the Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses (Gate) programme which assists tertiary education funding, Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh said yesterday, reiterating the Government’s commitment to Gate. Gopeesingh was speaking in Parliament during debate on an Opposition motion seeking the Government’s position on Gate and if it would be stopped.
He said the motion was skewed and the Government was fulfilling its manifesto promise to expand Gate despite PNM propaganda that it “was closing Gate.” He said it was the PNM which had instituted a means test for Gate students and the Government had since discarded that.
Gopeesingh said 87 per cent of students were receiving some kind of education in T&T from 29 per cent in primary level and 43 per cent at secondary to other levels. He said 93 per cent of students get grades one to five at the CAPE exam and Government is seeking, by 2014/15, to increase to 60 per cent the number of people getting tertiary education.
“We’re taking T&T to the forefront,” he added. PNM MP Colm Imbert, while admitting the PNM had a means test for Gate between September 2004 and January 2006, when it stopped, said this was only to assist poor students to qualify for government funding. Saying he was surprised the Education Minister did not know this, Imbert scathingly dismissed other statements by Gopeesingh.
However, Imbert’s attack on Gopeesingh prompted Speaker Wade Mark to ask him to be more “elegant” in his language. But Imbert insisted the Government should clear the air on Gate, saying the Government had said it would select national priorities, academics and business people had expressed concern about Gate costs and the Finance Minister had also said it was costly.
Government minister Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, speaking after, was critical of the attacks, saying MPs should not use parliamentary privilege to insult other members.
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