Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has given assurances to Dominicans at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies that his government will do all it can to assist them in completing their studies following the passage of Hurricane Maria in September.
Students have been outlining concerns over their ability to complete their courses, given that their parents at home are now focused on rebuilding their homes and lives, after the category five storm destroyed the majority of houses on the island in September.
Skerrit, who made a brief stop in Barbados on Sunday, following a visit to Trinidad and Tobago, told the students at the Cultural Centre in Black Rock, that his government will work to keep Dominicans studying at home and abroad enrolled in current programmes, whether it be at primary, secondary, or tertiary levels.
“We do not want any student dropping out because [his or her] parents cannot pay the fees … so let the word go forth from there this morning that your continued studies here in Barbados are not under threat, and will not be frustrated or terminated by any action of my government,” Skerrit said, adding that their skills will be needed to rebuild the country.
“We need you to complete your areas of study and come back home and help build the new Dominica. Do not waste … this opportunity to develop yourselves and equip yourselves for life’s challenges in the third decade of the 21st century,” he said.
He also appealed to the students to work with the government in “easing the strain and overall toll” that the current challenges being faced by the students will have on the public purse, and he warned that his administration will not tolerate negative behaviour, or those who squander their opportunities for higher education.
“We will negotiate with your various institutions of learning; we’ll also appeal to the kindness of your host country and its citizens and government; we’ll contribute as much as we can to the upkeep of your education. But I want this morning to appeal to you to not flaunt or take the opportunity for granted…
“The government of Dominica commits … to helping those who are serious about their education, through to the very end. But by the same token I can give no such assurance to those whose attitude and behaviour is not consistent with what we would hope and wish for… There will be zero tolerance of bad attitudes and behaviours. One strike and you’re guaranteed to be out, full stop,” Skerrit said.