Which aspects of the national scholarship programme has the potential for bias?
This is the rejoinder of former Public Administration Minister Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan to the current controversy over the awarding of scholarships.
Education Minister Anthony Garcia has said the criteria for granting of schools are open to bias and that the procedures are being reviewed.
Garcia made the comment after it was revealed that a student with 21 CSEC passes, including 18 distinctions, did not earn the President’s Medal.
The Minister stated that criteria indicate that scholars must have passes in languages.
This prompted a strong rebuttal from his predecessor, Dr. Tim Gopeesingh, who said he was unaware of such criteria.
Gopeesingh challenged Garcia to provide evidence of bias.
He said the Minister’s comments were a slur on the independent Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) and on some 2,000 national scholarship winners over the past five years.
Seepersad-Bachan has also called out Garcia to indicate aspects of the “robustly designed and faithfully implemented process” that has potential for bias.
She added: “Failure to do so will only cast aspersions on the dedicated academics and public officers who served on the Selection Committee charged with oversight responsibility, as well as the scholars who were meritoriously awarded scholarships in the past.”
The ex-minister said scores to be used had been made available online.
She said that as Public Administration she had promised that the selection and award of scholarships “would be open, transparent and merit-based.”
She stated: “This was in light of the many concerns and findings of an investigation into the award of scholarships prior to 2010.”
She expressed “deep concern” over Garcia’s statements.