Prime Minister Andrew Holness says some $45 million pumped by the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) into funding scholarships and bursaries for over 100 tertiary students is another example of the party's investments in the youth.
“We are making the investment in youth not as the Government, but as a political party, which shows that we genuinely and truly believe in education and we are putting our money where our philosophy is, with the youth,” Holness told last Friday's JLP Education Fund scholarship and grant awards at Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston.
He said that the five scholarships, each of which had been named after a party stalwart, would cost the party $18-$20 million, while an additional six bursaries to students who missed out on the scholarships and some 126 bursaries for the children of party members would cost close to $24 million. In addition, party affiliates had received five bursaries and five more would go to the JLP's youth arm, Young Jamaica.
He pointed out that there were over 300 applicants for the five scholarships which were granted — the Sir Alexander Bustamante Scholarship for mathematics and/or computer science; the Sir Donald Sangster scholarship for engineering; the Bruce Golding scholarship for the sciences; the Edward Seaga Scholarship for economics; and the Hugh Shearer Scholarship for engineering.
The awardees, all of whom are pursuing bachelor of science degrees, were: Bustamante scholarship — Demar Brown, a graduate of Belmont Academy, studying computing at the University of Technology (UTech); Sangster scholarship — Nile Anderson, studying at The University of the West Indies (UWI); Golding scholarship — Raimona Gowie-Roberts, past head girl of St Catherine High, who is attending The UWI; Seaga scholarship — Sebastian Lawrence, a graduate of Ardenne High who is studying maths at the UWI; and Shearer scholarship — Daniel Meggo, a former student/athlete at Cornwall College who is studying engineering at The UWI.
The six special bursaries awarded to students who failed to get any of the five scholarships went to: Shereese Bailey, economics at UWI; Brenton Bartley, civil engineering, UWI; Othandrea Downes, actuarial sciences, UWI; Jeneel James, sciences, UWI; Alana Morrison, sciences, UWI; and Michel Spence, actuarial sciences, UWI.
Chairman of the Scholarship Selection Committee, Senator Ransford Braham had earlier explained the challenges faced by his committee in selecting the five scholars from the 300 applicants.
He said that the committee was presented with 22 applicants who met the criteria for the scholarships. They met with the prime minister in an effort to resolve the deadlock and eventually six bursaries were added, ensuring that almost half of the group were funded.
“We simply could not find funds for 22 scholarships,” Prime Minister Holness explained. “We reviewed what we could do and we ended up with not only five scholarships, but also six (additional) persons whom we felt were equally deserving,” he explained.
“We believe that education is the most transformational force in the society and, if Jamaica is` going to move to the next level of development, greater effort and attention has to be paid to our educational system,” he noted.
He also pointed out that there were no political strings attached to the scholarships that were awarded.
Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke, a member of the selection committee, gave an overview in which he praised Holness for conceptualising the project. He said that the party was making an investment in the youths, because it expects them to emerge as tomorrow's leaders.
The selection committee also included Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Kamina Johnson Smith; Minister of Natioinal Security Dr Horace Chang; Professor Lloyd Waller, head of the Department of Government (UWI); G2K President Stephen Edwards; and Communications Specialist Kim McLeod