Monday, April 22, 2024

IDB: Vulnerable Bajans need help with education

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ONE OF BARBADOS’ MAIN FINANCIERS is advising authorities to allocate more funds to ensure “vulnerable groups” have access to higher education.

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), in its latest Caribbean Region Quarterly Bulletin, said Barbados “has made great progress on education outcomes”, but added that recent fiscal tightening suggested it could not be business as usual.

“Barbados has a well-trained and educated population. The country has achieved through the provision of quality free education gross enrolment rates of almost 100 per cent at the primary and secondary levels,” the bank said.

“At the tertiary level, enrolment is skewed towards greater female participation, as males join the labour market early. With fiscal consolidation and a gradual decline in subsidies for tertiary education, it is important to target further assistance towards vulnerable groups that may not have access to higher education,” it concluded.

In the special education financing section of its report, the IDB said “with a quality educational system that provides free primary and secondary education, [Barbados] has achieved 99.7 per cent adult literacy rates, which is amongst the highest in the world”.

“Tertiary level education is also subsidised and university students only partially cover fees. The country has high gross enrolment ratios. The 2014 [United Nations Development Programme] Human Development Report estimates that from 2005-2012, the percentage of children of pre-school age stood at 79 per cent, primary and secondary enrolment ratios were 105 per cent and at the tertiary level stood at 61 per cent,” it added.

The bank also said that while Government’s budget for tertiary education, made mostly of transfers to the University of West Indies, was reduced by around 12 percentage points from 2013-14 with the fiscal consolidation efforts, “the level of investment does not necessarily translate into higher education outcomes in the absence of good quality education and is linked to the level of efficiency of public spending”. (SC)

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