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President’s Scholarship scheme to be revamped

Minister of State in the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon.

The new administration is reviewing the President’s Scholarship Award Programme due to several “issues” surrounding its functioning, says Minister of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon.

In addition to looking at opportunities for young Guyanese scholarships abroad, the Education Minister, he said, has been tasked with reviewing the programme to incorporate increased opportunities for Guyanese at home to study at the University of Guyana (UG) on scholarships.

The Ministry of Public Service, whose operations have now been absorbed by the Ministry of the Presidency, had been running a programme where persons were afforded scholarships to study at UG, and were given jobs upon graduating.

These developments were shared with members of the press by Harmon during his post-Cabinet briefing today.

“Cabinet was briefed that there was a monetary value attached to these scholarships but that in the awarding of the scholarships from 2012 – 2014 there were issues in relation to the universities that were chosen by those scholarship awardees,” Harmon explained.

He went to say that “of the four (4) awardees in 2012 only two (2) have taken up the scholarships,” adding that only three (3) of the 2013 awardees have taken up their scholarships.

The fourth is reportedly now requesting the award.

In 2014, the former administration offered the top CXC performers opportunities to study in China, Cuba, or in Guyana at the University of Guyana (UG) though these students were initially promised the opportunity to study at any university they would choose. Harmon said that the parents of all the offerees rejected the scholarships, and recalled that one girl even went public.

Former Queens College student, Elisa Hamilton, topped the country last year by attaining 19 Grade Ones ad 1 Grade Two in the CSEC examinations. Pursuant to the former administration’s promise, she opted to pursue studies in medicine at the University of Yale in the United States of America. Suffice to say, the offer of pursuing studies in Cuba, China or at UG would have been more than disappointing.

The former administration had suggested that these offers were the result of insufficient funds which resulted from the fact that there is no budget has been passed for 2015.

Harmon though, says that “Cabinet has taken the position that the fact that a commitment was given (the new administration) would honor the obligation to these awardees up to the year 2015. Thereafter, Cabinet has mandated the Education Minister to examine the programme carefully and come up with firm recommendations.”

Harmon also said that Cabinet gave “guidance to the Minister of education that in looking at conditions for awards that he also considers scholarships for people in Guyana at the University of Guyana (UG).”

The President’s Scholarship Award Programme commenced in 2012. It was intended to avail scholarships to the most exemplary performers in both the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) and the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificates (CSEC) Examination.