LAST Wednesday, 26 students, from tertiary institutions across the island, received some assistance for the start of the
The students, all members of the unions in the Jamaica Credit Union League (JCCUL), are among 43 — one scholarship winner and 42 special bursaries to celebrate the JCCUL 70th anniversary — attended a luncheon at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel for the handing over of cheques.
In addressing the function, Andrew Holness, leader of the Opposition and the shadow minister for education, said that credit unions should be very proud of the civic pride that they engendered in Jamaica.
“My mother was a civil servant and among the first things she did was join a credit union. They were there to help with expanding the home and with tuition, as they have for many other homes across the island,” Holness said.
He went on to point out that credit unions have never been affected by any of the downturns Jamaica has faced and that speaks to the strength of the sector.
It is through that strength that he suggested that JCCUL and its members can play a bigger part in education.
“The credit unions can set up a parallel system to that of the SLB (Students’ Loan Bureau),” Holness said at the gathering.
This suggestion was the last of several points he raised in his 20 minute speech, which included his views that access to education should be free.
“I do not believe that that you should pay for education. Education is
a national good. It is the vacuum against poverty and ignorance. It cannot be free, but it must be freely accessed. It cannot be that students that are registered under PATH (Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education) are now being asked to pay auxillary fees, This is a departure from an accepted policy position,” Holness explained.
He went on to reveal that when the Jamaica Labour Party was in government and introduced free education, there was a 10 per cent raise in attendance levels across the board. This move, he claims, made education freely accessible to the masses that need it most.
After his address, the League presented the awards to the 26 students who were present. This year marked the 70th year of operation for the JCCUL and it was marked be giving 42 bursaries worth $70,000 each. Aeisha Edwards, however, claimed the Lorrell Bruce Scholarship of $350,000 to complete her final year of study in management studies and accounting at University of the West Indies. The combined awards value $3 million.