CHEC Building Young Jamaican Lives

Photo: JIS Photographer Prime Minister the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller along with former Regional Director of China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) Limited, Tang Zhongdong (3rd left) and Minister of Transport, Work and Housing, Hon. Dr. Omar Davies, posed with the recipients of CHEC’s inaugural engineering scholarship. The students from left are: Clenmar Rowe, Kemmisha Skinner, David Scott, Tashae Thompson and Rushawn Marshall.

Story Highlights

  • China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) Limited is best known in Jamaica for building highways; however, the company has also been quietly building lives through its involvement in educating Jamaican students.
  • This partnership is paying off, especially for five young Jamaicans, who are beneficiaries of a five-year full scholarship programme launched in April 2014.
  • The five, Clenmar Rowe, Rushawn Marshall, David Scott, Kemmisha Skinner and Tashae Thompson, are pursuing Bachelor of Science (BSc) degrees in Engineering, majoring in Harbour Coastal and Offshore Engineering, at the prestigious Hohai University in Nanjing, China.

China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) Limited is best known in Jamaica for building highways; however, the company has also been quietly building lives through its involvement in educating Jamaican students.

This partnership is paying off, especially for five young Jamaicans, who are beneficiaries of a five-year full scholarship programme launched in April 2014.

The five, Clenmar Rowe, Rushawn Marshall, David Scott, Kemmisha Skinner and Tashae Thompson, are pursuing Bachelor of Science (BSc) degrees in Engineering, majoring in Harbour Coastal and Offshore Engineering, at the prestigious Hohai University in Nanjing, China.

The scholarship was the brainchild of the company’s former Regional Director, Tang Zhongdong, who felt that it was an excellent way of developing long term collaboration and lasting relations between Jamaica and China and to contribute to the economical, environmental and social development of the country.

The former Regional Director firmly believes that the engineering skills that the students are now acquiring will be a foundation for the future, as the specific discipline is in great demand globally.

Mr. Tang recently visited the students in China and was pleased with their progress. He expressed pride at the fact that they were excelling.

Courses are taught in Chinese and the students were first required to learn the language at the Nanjing Normal University.  Students must pass the HSK level four (HSK4) test, which assesses their ability in the application of Mandarin.  In addition, they also pursued courses in Physics and Mathematics.

All the Jamaican students passed the HSK4 test on their first sitting, scoring over 200 points out of a possible 300.

One student, Clenmar Rowe, received the third highest score in the test, scoring 287 points.  Clenmar was then recommended to sit the HSK5 examination where he placed first of all the students who started studying Chinese at the University. He scored 245 points out of 300 and was featured in Chinese newspapers for his outstanding performance.

“This examination not only decided whether or not we would be able to continue our studies at Hohai University, it also decided if we lost the scholarship or not. So, we prepared, and after preparing, we prepared some more, right up until the day of our examinations. Though we were nervous, we stuck to our studies and all passed the examination with flying colours,” Mr. Rowe tells JIS News.

For Rushawn Marshall, another recipient, learning Chinese “was a bit hard at first seeing that I had no prior experience.”

He notes that like any other language, it requires time and practice. “I can recall spending hours memorising, pronouncing, writing characters, looking over notes, doing homework, but it all paid off. After six months of studying, I took the exam in March and scored 239 out of 300,” he says.

During this period, Rushawn was also the student representative for students from Jamaica, Angola and New Guinea.

All five students successfully completed their first year and are now at Hohai University, where they will spend their next four years. Hohai University is one of the first institutions in China that is qualified to award Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral degrees to international students.

Among the courses that the students are pursuing are: fundamentals in Electrotechnics and Electronics; Underground Water Conservancy; Road and Port Engineering; Introduction to Harbour Logistics Systems; and Application of Engineering Design Software. The institution accommodates thousands of international students from over 90 countries in Africa, Asia, America, Europe and Oceania.

Rushawn expresses gratitude for his experience to date and sees a bright future ahead. “Every so often for the past year, when I wake up I am still in awe of this tremendous opportunity I have been given.  A year ago, I was at a crossroads trying to decide where to plant my feet next,” he says, as he gives thanks to CHEC for the scholarship.

The company has taken care of all expenses, inclusive of accommodation, tuition, books, living expenses and one return ticket to Jamaica each year.

For Tashae Thompson, life in China is very interesting.  “I am very slowly getting accustomed to the food and the climate. But overall, my first year studying in China was a memorable and extremely enjoyable one. I have no regrets. I wish to thank China Harbour Engineering Company for this once in a lifetime opportunity. Words can’t express our appreciation,” she tells JIS News.

Kemmisha Skinner expresses similar sentiments and is eager to learn more. She says that her life in China has definitely helped her to become more mature, noting that this was the first time that she has been living away from her parents.

The students returned home to spend their summer vacation, with Clenmar Rowe doing internship with CHEC on the North South Link of Highway 2000.

“During the few weeks I have been at the Treadways section of the North-South Highway undergoing internship, my outlook on the engineering world has totally changed,” he informs.

“My eyes have been opened to the immense work and technicalities that go into constructing a seemingly simple road, let alone the entire length of a highway,” he says.

The Chinese company collaborated with the Government of Jamaica, through the Ministry of Education, to offer the scholarships.

Regional Human Resource Manager of CHEC, Americas Division, Andrea Jarrett, says the company intends to continue with the scholarship programme.

She notes too, that the company has assisted several schools near to its worksites to improve their infrastructure.  These include: rehabilitating the ground of Charlemont High School; constructing a retaining wall at Polly Ground Primary; and levelling and grassing the playing field of McGrath High, among others.

China Harbour Engineering Company is a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company Ltd. (CCCC). The company opened its Jamaican offices on

April 22, 2010, after signing an agreement with the Government in 2009 to be the general contractor for two main projects, the Palisadoes Shoreline Protection and Rehabilitation Works, and the all-island Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP).

The company has constructed the Westmoreland Bridge, the Christiana Bypass Road and is now constructing the North South Link of Highway 2000, which runs from Caymanas, in St. Catherine, to Mammee Bay in St. Ann.

Highway 2000 is intended to serve as a catalyst for Jamaica’s economy, through direct and efficient links between major economic centres, cities and towns, as well as growth points. It also provides options of bypassing congested roadways.

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