PM donates $2.5 million to UTech to help students in need

PM donates $2.5 million to UTech to help students in need

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Prime Minister Andrew Holness has donated a total of $2.5 million to the University of Technology Jamaica (UTech) to assist students with the “greatest financial need at this time.”

According to the university, the donation, which took place today included two cheques – one for $1.5 million from the Jamaica Labour Party Education Fund and the other for $1 million from the Prime Minister's Positive Jamaica Foundation.

According to a statement from UTech, Holness said he was moved to reach out to the university following recent media reports concerning financial difficulties being faced by university students.

“I read with concern an article in the newspaper recently that outlined the difficulties that university students were having. The difficulties revolved around their lack of ability to finance their education. The COVID-19 times would have made it difficult for everyone but particularly for students,” the Prime Minister said.

He added that another challenge reportedly being faced by students, was technology, whereby students were not able to connect to online classes owing to lack of devices and a lack of reliable Internet connectivity, particularly in some rural communities.

“This in my mind would be a perfect example of what is considered the digital divide,” Holness said, adding that “there are persons in our society who are poor, but their poverty is not just as it relates to income and personal savings but their poverty is also lack of connectivity. So another dimension of poverty is lack of connectivity – how well connected are you to information networks, to the information highway and how are you able to virtually participate in the new economies that are emerging and the modalities that are emerging to conduct transactions.”

Noting that there is a correlation between income, access and performance, which may result in scholarships sometimes being awarded to persons who may not necessarily have a need, the Prime Minister noted that “what we try to do to balance that scale is to offer these scholarships to the universities. So instead of the Jamaica Labour Party going to select who is in need; it would be better that this is done by the universities who could adjudge that, without any form of political consideration,” the Prime Minister said.

The scholarship to UTech is being offered for the second consecutive year by the JLP Education Fund and the Positive Jamaica Foundation.

“I am very pleased that I can for the second year running offer the support to our students who are in need. The terms that applied last year will apply this year; same range between $100,000 to $150,000 to students who are definitely in need, and if you find it possible to support devices and Internet connectivity we certainly support it,” the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister also noted that the university may opt to use the funds to provide smaller grants to assist with data plans for students.

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