BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Student public debt is a major problem in many nations. Barbados feels it has a solution. The cabinet has approved a Give Back Programme for students of the University of the West Indies (UWI) to repay their taxpayer-funded tuition with public service.

Minister of Home Affairs Edmund Hinkson said that under the programme, university students will be required to complete 150 hours of community service over the three to four years they are at university.

He said government believed it was important for university students to give back to their society through volunteerism.

“This is what being a Barbadian is about. Being a Barbadian is not only about what you can get out of your country…but also about what you can do for your country,” the Minister said.

Hinkson noted that there is already a list of organizations, entities and non-governmental organizations waiting to come on board the programme, and the national summer camps also provided an avenue for university students to volunteer. Additionally, he said, there is a need for volunteers to clean up communities in the event of a disaster and to ensure the people in the communities are safe.

“These are the kinds of actions of citizenry that we require of our young people, especially in this country going forward.  The government cannot do it alone.  We need the support of everyone, especially young people to volunteer,” Hinkson urged.

He noted that initiatives such as the Junior Cadet Programme gave young people the tools and equipment to be able to volunteer in society, and to develop the kind of citizens that Barbados required.