Montego Bay, St James — THE Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) recently awarded 175 tertiary students from "vulnerable" communities in the western region with tuition assistance worth $19 million.
The CSJP is a Ministry of National Security initiative which focuses on community safety, security and poverty reduction. The programme currently provides services to 50 volatile and vulnerable communities across eight parishes.
At the awards ceremony, Minister of National Security Peter Bunting asserted his belief that education can only lead to positive changes in one's life.
"I firmly believe that an education provides a means by which residents from volatile communities can be boosted," he said.
"This assistance being offered will go a far way in empowering our youth to contribute more effectively and meaningfully to community development. I sincerely hope that each and every beneficiary will get the catalyst for positive change within the communities that they represent," Bunting added.
Even with heavy financial constraints the CSJP disbursed $113 million in tuition support this year with the Western Region accounting for $19 million, a statement from the organisation said. The CSJP said scholarship support ranged from $165,000- $1 million per recipient. Recipients are enrolled in specialized areas such as Law, Medicine, Business Administration, Engineering along with other disciplines. Scholarship awardees are required to give back 120 hours of community service as a means of ensuring community sustenance and development
Member of Parliament for Central St James Lloyd B Smith who said most of the awardees are from his constituency applauded the CSJP for making such a valuable contribution.
"It has been said that a mind is a very terrible thing to waste and part of the challenge we face as a nation and a community is the fact that so many of our young minds are going to waste," Smith said.
"A country cannot be economically productive, cannot be socially stable, if the majority of our citizens lack mental acuity and are unable to reason and be rational citizens and therefore be productive members of the society. I want to therefore commend the CSJP for seeking to empower of our youngsters," he added.