|PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar speaking on Friday at the launch of the UTT Education Campus in Tobago|
She was speaking in Tobago at the launch of the campus, which will form part of the tertiary education network in the country incorporating the UTT, the UWI, COSTAATT and other institutions of higher learning.
She said her government has already established in Tobago:
- The Tobago technology Centre in Bon Accord
- The OJT office in Scarborough (and one to be opened in Roxborough)
- The PTSC Trade Centre
- The Bethel Computer Training facility (for which she praised the efforts of Tobago Development Minister Dr Delmon Baker)
- A mobile computer training facility
- Key departments of all tertiary education departments
She said a site selection committee is still considering possible locations for the campus. Rowley alleged in the Parliament on Wednesday that the campus site has been determined and involves the "friend of a friend of a friend". The PM stated that is not so.
Commenting on the establishment of integrated campus, Persad-Bissessar echoed the sentiments of Tertiary Education Minister Fazal Karim about Tobago becoming an education hub.
The PM said this would generate additional revenue and jobs in Tobago since the island would be seen as much more than a "sun, surf and sand" destination. She said it is her hope as well that the Scarborough hospital would soon become a teaching hospital along with other health institutions in the country offering medical education.
Persad-Bissessar spoke of the value of education as an upward mobility tool noting that persons with higher education benefit from better wages and a superior quality of life.
She said it is her hope that very soon the enrollment in higher education would reach 60 per cent; today it's around 40 per cent. She said few countries in the world are fortunate to have free tertiary education for all and noted that as far as she is aware T&T is the only country in the region that offers that.
She said the development of education facilities in Tobago would include the most modern technology for communication among campuses using video conferencing from "smart" classrooms. In addition there would be an emphasis on distance learning.
Persad-Bissessar also promised a library on the site of the campus.
She said while geography separates Trinidad and Tobago her government is committed to ensuring that that would not stop the delivery of educational programs to Tobago. "You won't be left behind," she pledged. "Our islands are separated but united."
As an example of the equal partnership between the two islands, Persad-Bissessar said Tobago is standing on the threshold of exciting developments, with the discovery of natural gas in the region off the Tobago coast. She said for the first time in the island's history Tobago would be able to participate fully in the energy sector and benefit directly from energy revenues.
She promised that her administration would work together "to build a better Trinidad & Tobago".