The two candidates for West Bay North said Caymanians on university scholarships should get more support from government. Incumbent Bernie Bush said higher education should be free for Caymanians, while challenger Rolston Anglin said Caymanians at overseas universities should have jobs lined up before they return to the Cayman Islands.
Bush said Caymanians must have access to higher education “at all costs”.
He said, “It should be free. That’s another thing, a $20,000 scholarship going to a single child with a single mother, it’s almost impossible for that individual to find the rest of the balance to [go to] a top university.”
He also said that Caymanians who qualify should have the entirety of their A Levels paid for — whether that’s by government bringing the programme back into public schools, or providing extra funding for them to attend private schools.
“No parent should have to worry about their child getting A Levels, plain and simple,” Bush said.
Anglin, who served as Minister of Education from 2009-2013, said, “Higher learning is something we should be proud of in Cayman. When I went to university and when I lived in New York, most [people] were shocked that the Cayman Islands had a national scholarship programme.”
He said the scholarship programme is “critically important as we continue to build Cayman”, and what’s even more important is to revive a database he started, that was discontinued in 2013, where local employers had the identities and GPAs of every Caymanian on scholarship, “to ensure that we could connect Caymanians to jobs before they come back””
“We’re going to soon suffer brain drain in this country if we don’t grab the bull by the horns now and work closely with the private sector to make sure this happens,” he said
The candidates were asked about the roles of University College of the Cayman Islands, International College of the Cayman Islands, Truman Bodden Law School and other institutions, and if they supported merging institutions.
Anglin said, “I think every one of these institutions has a role to play in our community. Education is not one of those things that you can simply take one singular approach.”
He said, “We need to ensure that our children coming out of school have extremely high standards, standards set for them to ensure globally they are competing with every single one of their peers, and our children have the capability to do it.”
Bush said, “Each one of those institutions has their place to be and we should not try to mix them up.”
He said, “I do not feel that we should make any move in the education field until we get all the information and analysis compiled together. Education is not something to make mistakes on. We’ve already made some in the past, and we have children who are suffering.”
The 13th candidates forum hosted by the Chamber takes place Wednesday, 23 March, and features candidates from West Bay West. The debates are posted on various media, including the Chamber’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.