Barbados Introduces Free Bus Rides for Students
Barbados, which already offers free state financed education from primary to university levels, has now added free bus travel to and from school for its estimated 10,000 – 12,000 students. It previously cost each child one dollar (US 50 cents) per ride.
The innovation was introduced for the start of the 2008 Barbados school year, along with a new dress code for the students.
For the most part, parents have welcomed the financial relief from bus fares and Barbados school principals have reported that more students have been arriving on time for classes.
Prime Minister David Thompson, in his 2008 Budget presentation, announced that all schoolchildren in uniform or under 18-years-old and carrying identification would be allowed to travel free on the buses.
The Barbados government has allocated an extra 8 million dollars to cover the new free ride service. Barbados already spends about 20 per cent of its (US) billion dollar annual budget on education
Day one of the new uniform code saw about 250 students being sent back home for failure to comply. They were mostly female students with uniforms that were too short or male students with “too baggy” pants. They all eventually returned to their classrooms.
Meanwhile, the Barbados government has announced it is putting on hold, plans by the previous administration to introduce a University College of Barbados.
Education Minister Ronald Jones has indicated that his current priority is “working to build capacity” at the post-secondary educational facilities.
“What is of prime importance (right now) is to have students who are interested in post-secondary education having somewhere they can go……right now we don’t have any excess capacity.
“When we think we have been able to satisfy that demand then we can again wrap our thoughts around the University College of Barbados”, Mr. Jones added.
The College was expected to come on stream in September 2008.
Barbados already houses one of three campuses of the University of the West Indies (UWI), which has just announced it will be adding 500 more rooms to its Cave Hill facility in 2009, to handle the growing student influx.
Barbados has 102 schools handling primary and secondary education.
October 6th, 2008