Prime Minister Gaston Browne has again defended the highly controversial decision to repurpose what was the Five Island Secondary School for use as a university, noting that it will improve Antigua and Barbuda’s competitiveness.
The nation’s leader, who was speaking during a presentation, last Thursday said that in order to compete with other top countries, the nation must develop its human resources. He added that an educational facility such as a University also attracts investors.
“We have to understand that Antigua and Barbuda has to become competitive pretty quickly and our best bet in order to be globally competitive would be through our human resource development, the skills and expertise of our people.
“When investors come to our country and they ask about educational facilities they do not ask us about neither pre-schools nor secondary schools, they ask about a University which suggest to me the establishment of a University must be a priority.
PM Browne said that the establishment of the University will also make it easier for local students to have access to and afford tertiary education.
He added that despite the many petition against, the project the government is moving ahead with the project on the grounds that other provisions are being made to address the overcrowding issue at the nation’s schools.
“We have an opportunity now to establish a University in Antigua and Barbuda in the next couple of years to popularize tertiary education to ensure easier accessibility or affordability and I just cannot understand why individuals have been so myopic about this issue. “We’re spending $10 million to expand the Secondary school plant so we’re not ignoring it and within the next 90 days and additional $14 million will be spent expanding the secondary school plant,” he said
He added that the government has also demonstrated its ability to fund the institution.
“We have actually increase spending on scholarships to $20 million a year so within our first year we would have spent $100 million dollar in scholarships to support tertiary education for our young Antiguans and Barbudans….that is one of the reasons why we can sustain a University here.”