Lynthia Pacquette-Lewis

United Workers Party (UWP) candidate who contested the Grand Bay seat  in the 2009 general elections Lynthia Pacquette- Lewis, has openly criticized Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit’s plans for education coming from the 2010/2011 budget address.

At a public UWP meeting in Lagoon on Monday night, Pacquette-Lewis told supporters that one of her main disappointments was that there was no mention of an increase in scholarships and bursaries issued to students.

“I notice that the prime minister did not make mention of the increase in scholarships and bursaries for the grade six students in his budget address, I would really like to send a message to the honourable prime minister with all due respect so that he can reconsider including more scholarships and bursaries to the grade six students to take out the cries out there by the parents who are suffering financially and are still unable to meet certain commitments,” she stated.

She pointed out that when the UWP was in power there were marginal increases in the number of scholarships awarded to students, in addition to free text books.

“During the time of the United Workers Party I can clearly remember that hundreds of scholarships were awarded. During the time, secondary school students were also awarded free text books. My people, the economic situation was booming within that time, no doubt about it. I would really like the Labour Party administration to compete with us in this aspect,” the female politician said.

Pacquette-Lewis said that she sought clarification as to the prime minister’s plans for a $1.5 million increase in capital allocated for education in his budget presentation.

“In response to the prime minister 2010/2011 budget analysis I would like to point out the importance of the increase he made in his budget on education, which increased- as he said- by $1.5 million, according to the budget estimate as compared to last year’s $17.1 million,” she said

“My people I’m wondering what that increase is really for. He did not explain too much, but I hope he can consider the grade six children with more bursaries and scholarships,” she stated.

Pacquette-Lewis described the 2010/2011 budget as only “painting a picture of good things” but is really unattainable.

She called for the erection of Dominica’s first university as opposed to the expansion of the Dominica State College, which the prime minister mentioned as a plan under the new budget.

“My people, another concern for the young people at the grade six level is the Universal Education. A lot of students drop out of school, You wonder why. Many welcome the Universal (Secondary) Education but some still cry and wonder   why they did not section some students because some students are suffering among the very academic ones,” she added.

“Why they are afraid of the challenge and no one hears the cry? Honourable prime minister I’d like you revisit the Universal Education Program and look at the situation affecting the under privileged and the mentally challenged and academically challenged, and give them an opportunity-a fair one, to get something to suit them- whether  its a technical skill area to occupy them, so that tomorrow when they become fathers and mothers they can have something to call a career,” the Grand Bay woman stated.

According to the prime minister’s budget address, the Government of the People’s Republic of China will provide grant funds for the construction of a building to house the Newtown Primary School.

A loan facility in the amount of US$40 million has been contracted with the Export Import Bank of China of which an estimated US$15.0 million has been earmarked for rehabilitation and construction works at the Dominica State College, the prime minister said.

Construction work on both the projects will begin this year, Prime Minister Skerrit has said.

UWP members have described the $440.3 million budget as a “lazy-man budget.”