NCU appeals for help with Rescue 2020

Programme provides scholarships to needy and at-risk youth

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS
Senior staff reporter
saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

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PRESIDENT of the Northern Caribbean University (NCU) Dr Lincoln Edwards has made an appeal to the private sector, civic bodies and philanthropic organisations to help support its Rescue 2020 scholarship programme.

The programme, which was launched in June 2017, provides scholarships to needy students and finances special NCU initiatives in at-risk communities.

The target is to raise US$10 million over the three-year life of the programme, but Dr Edwards says the intent is to go beyond 2020. So far there have been commitments of approximately US$500,000 towards the programme, he said.

“It costs so much more to incarcerate persons than it does to help to educate them, so I really am appealing to philanthropic organisations, the society at large, the private sector, to come full force behind this rescue initiative, because we have a window here to really transform. We can't do it alone...this is a chance for the private sector, philanthropic organsiaitons if they are really serious about reversing crime and making an impact, to partner with the NCU so that we can do our part in reversing this,” Dr Edwards stated.

The NCU president, who was accompanied by a four-member team of senior executives, was addressing yesterday Observer's Monday Exchange about the transformative initiatives being undertaken by the tertiary institution.

Dr Edwards said that during his first semester as president, there were 800 young people who could not fund their education: “I said to my finance people there is no way that we can release 800 young people back to the communities; if we send them back with their hopes dashed anything is possible, so what we did is we took a big risk and we enrolled those students, and I said let me take the campaign to the nation through Rescue 2020 and see if the nation would partner with us to reverse this…so that is the kind of numbers that we are dealing with here”.

“We have to push back against the criminal element by taking the young people out of their reach, putting them in an institution where they can learn values, (and) proper work ethics” he remarked.

He pointed out that as a private entity, the institution does not receive a subvention from Government, and that 70 per cent of the its budget comes from tuition payments.

But many students are unable to pay, he stressed.

“When the majority of the students who come to us are from rural areas, many of them the first in their family to go to university, and many of them cannot pay, then you understand the financial challenges, that's why we are appealing to the nation to support these persons so that they can remain because sometimes they drop out because they don't have the money and that is very painful to all of us. That is where they need to stay and be trained to be useful citizens in the country. So this Rescue 2020 is critical in keeping young people at the place where they need to be empowered and inspired to become contributors to the economy,” he stated.

At the same time, the NCU president has called on the Government to find creative ways to assist the university with Rescue 2020, “because what we are doing is a positive way to impact crime,” he said. He noted that the Government has in the past assisted the university with funding, but said this needs to be on an ongoing basis, particularly for the scholarship programme. Dr Edwards said the education minister, Senator Ruel Reid has expressed interest in providing assistance through a special pool of funds, especially for students who are the first from their family to enrol in university, and is hoping NCU will benefit from the programme.

“But the private sector and other foundations is where a lot of the help needs to come from as Government continues to see what they can do to assist us,” he insisted.

Dr Edwards stressed that the scholarships give young people who are at-risk the opportunity to receive a values-based education underpinned by strong work ethic and an emphasis on service.

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