Education — an expensive vehicle to social mobilityFriday, December 03, 2021
I think it is the perfect time to express my disappoint in the systems we have here in Jamaica, given this crime epidemic.
As a young man from a volatile community in St Catherine, I speak from experience when I say more needs to be done to mobilise at-risk youth and show them that there are other options than crime.
My particular problem is with tertiary education and funding. Though I must commend the nation in making basic, primary, and secondary education free, paying tuition fees at the tertiary level is a nightmare. Having been barred from registering and sitting my exams this semester after completing, so far, a year and a half of my studies despite being a student loan recipient, I cannot help but be frustrated.
As a law student at The University of the West Indies, Mona, I am expected to pay US$10,000 dollars yearly, which fluctuates with the movement of the Jamaican dollar. This currently converts to approximately $1.5 million.
With the Students' Loan Bureau being our primary and, to my knowledge, only student lending agency providing the maximum of $1 million to law students, we are left to find the balance, which can be difficult.
Coming from a single-parent home with my family members hardly ever employed, it is God's good graces and the contributions that I have managed garner that has brought me this far.
What is even more alarming is how difficult it is for me to land a scholarship or grant. Having maintained a grade point average of 3.6, which has landed me a place on the dean's list of high achievers and maintaining a presence in extra-curricular activities, I have applied for many without success.
I wonder what message the system is trying to communicate? Is it that, as a ghetto youth higher level education is not for me, but should be left for the elite among us? Or, probably, with student loan fully covering the cheaper programms, should young people like myself stick to those areas we can afford, which further adds to the class divide in our society. Whatever the message is, I am pretty sure it is not a positive one for those of us who are trying to make a meaningful impact on society but are being hampered by the glass ceiling.
In times like these we need to step back and reflect on whether we are really helping the youth of our future to reach their highest potential. Or do we just neglect them to find ways of doing it on their own, one of which may be to engage in crimanal enterprise?
The struggle is real, and help is needed.