NEGRIL, Hanover — Though initially they were supposed to receive scholarships of $50,000, five primary school students in Westmoreland have each benefited from an extra $10,000 in recognition of Jamaica's 60th year of Independence.
The $60,000 they each received last Sunday was in addition to other prizes presented by Councillor Garfield James to top performers in the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) exams. This is the third year the locally elected official has provided support for students transitioning from primary to high school.
"This year, in particular, the parents are happy because this scholarship… will be able to aid them with their back-to-school preparation for September. We all know things are a little bit difficult on the part of the parents as it relates to finding the financial support for students returning to school. Hence, we saw it fit to make sure that, in addition to the cash prize of $60,000, they received backpacks containing all the necessary school supplies such as calculators, geometry sets, rulers, books, etc," said James.
An elated Dae'janique Campbell, who has dreams of becoming a surgeon, told the Jamaica Observer that the award will take some of the burden from "my parents' and grandparents' shoulders".
The 12-year-old, who will be moving on to Manning's School from Revival Primary, was one of the five top performers within the Sheffield Division of the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation. She was among the honoured guests at last week's ceremony held at Ayurveda Hotel in Negril.
The other four students — Abby Gay Golding, Alaina Allen, Clyon Linton and Dorcyan Douglas — are from Sheffield Primary, St Paul's Primary, Little Bay Primary and Moreland Primary schools, respectively. Four of the five are girls. When the initiative started in 2020 all five recipients were boys; last year there were three boys and two girls.
James said an attempt is being made to grow the scholarship from just PEP awards to include top Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination performers from high schools within the Westmoreland Western constituency.
He pointed to the importance of the awards.
"It is so necessary, because if we fail to educate our children it means that we will be failing the country in the long run. So, we need to do our part," he said.