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Govt expanding Gate programme —Karim
Tertiary Education and Skills Training Minister Fazal Karim has denied the Opposition PNM’s claims that students are being denied access to the Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses (Gate) programme. “I have been very comprehensive in my response to the private members day motion put forward in the lower house by MP (Patricia) McIntosh.
What I indicated was the Gate programme in its commitment from the People’s Partnership, the 120-day action plan. The honourable PM indicated that we will secure and expand the Gate programme. “I think if there is any superior benefit than obtained from the previous administration is that we have secured and expanded the Gate, not only in widening the opportunities to persons who wish to pursue Gate but, for the first time, in terms of technical and vocational programmes,” Karim said. He was speaking on Wednesday at the launch of the PTSC/NESC Trade School and Workforce Assessment Centre held at PTSC Grounds, South Quay. Fifteen men and one female were chosen as the first batch of heavy equipment technician apprentices.
The House of Representatives debated Gate last Friday after a private motion was brought by McIntosh. Karim said the ministry had spent $650 million on Gate and for fiscal year 2011/2012 increased Gate spending by $200 million. He said many students were pursuing programmes that were not aligned with the Government’s economic development strategy. While he said he supported freedom of academia, research and knowledge, Karim said the Gate dispensation would be based on the philosophy of “building the brains” of the country.
“We can do it. If Singapore can do it we can do it. I am of the view that one of the opportunities to diversify the economy of T&T is on the basis of our knowledge. “Let me say categorically to the Opposition, no single individual who has qualified to pursue education in the higher education sector has been denied Gate. No one will be denied Gate. “What we are saying is we are streamlining Gate. We are advising students as to what opportunities there are postgraduate. It makes no point you are pursuing a course of study and there is nothing for you afterwards,” Karim said. Graduates of tertiary programmes, he said, should be responding by contributing to the wealth and development of the country. But, he asked, how could the students do so if not given an opportunity?
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