Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to this debate.
Mr Speaker, by this Bill, Government is seeking to establish the university as a pre-eminent research and practically oriented health educational institution dedicated to community service.
Mr Speaker, as of now, we have in existence several public universities. Indeed, if you look at the private sector's involvement in education, the major aspect has been in the form of Humanities. So if Government has decided to establish a university, then it is fitting that it is related to health and allied sciences.
But Mr Speaker, we must also look at the broader picture. In our country presently, I can say without fear or contradiction, that over 50 per cent of our graduates after national service do not have employment. Even though this is not scientific, considering the number of requests that are made, over 50 per cent are not employed and that is the major problem we face in the country.
So if Government decides to establish a university for whatever purpose, then it must in the medium to long-term have a programme that would expand the economy, so that we can get employment for the graduates.
Quite recently, at a discussion relating to another Bill, we were informed by a researcher that it looks as if contrary to what we believe is the conventional wisdom, prospects of -employment for graduates of the sciences are very bleak
as compared to graduates in the Humanities only because our industrial base is weak.
So while commending Government for this initiative, I am saying that this university should not be a political university. Programmes and policies must be put in place to ensure that the young graduates in this country have hope in the future.
In my view, the greatest challenge that we face in this country presently is unemployment. At first, it used to be secondary graduates unemployment. Now, graduate unemployment is more of the norm and I am urging Government, particularly the Minister for Education, together with the Minister for Employment and Social Welfare to connect with the private sector, so that we can know our needs as a nation and then policies that we put in place would be geared towards meeting our manpower needs.
At this juncture, I also wish to encourage the Ministry of Education to look at the use of technology in expanding access to tertiary education. An initiative was taken during the time when I was honoured to serve as the Minister for Education, to create technological platforms in regional capitals which later would be extended to major districts where we could have those who desire tertiary education, to access it from their regions, and from their districts, so that the cost of tertiary education to the individual is minimized.
The reality is that, Government with its enormous responsibilities, has limited funds for tertiary education. Look at our existing universities, we are having students almost always clamoring against excessive user charges and even in the sciences, there is a major problem because we do not have the faculty.