Several leaders in academia, business and the civil service have endorsed the Government’s establishment of the Marcus Garvey Public Sector Scholarship Programme.
The human capital develop initiative, named in honour of Jamaica’s first National Hero, the Rt. Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey, will see an initial 150 postgraduate scholarships being provided for public-sector officers over the next five years at a cost of more than $1 billion, with 30 being awarded per annum.
It will enable successful applicants to pursue master’s degree programmes aligned with Jamaica’s national priorities and strategic objectives, in areas such as health and education policy, economic planning, forensic science, and procurement.
The scholarships will be tenable at tertiary institutions in Jamaica and overseas at the start of the 2021/22 academic year.
The participating institutions already confirmed are the University of the West Indies (UWI) and University of Technology (UTech); Harvard University and Johns Hopkins University in the United States of America (USA); and King’s College and Oxford University in the United Kingdom (UK).
The programme, which was launched on July 29, is the brainchild of Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, who announced the undertaking during his 2020/21 Budget Debate presentation in March.
UWI Vice Chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles, who spoke during the launch, lauded Dr. Clarke for visioning the initiative, which, he said, aims to build social capital.
“It is [also] about creating confident citizens who have no doubt about the role that they have to play in the transformation of our [regional] economies and societies,” he added, noting that the priority national areas “are all focused on [increasing] efficiency”.
Sir Hilary said the scholarship is appropriately named in honour of Garvey, whom he described as “one of the greatest inspirational leaders of the 20th century, whose reputation continues to resonate to provide guidance for all of us”.
“He is one who has inspired all of us to take responsibility for our destinies. While we may recognise the role of exogenous [events] in shaping our reality, it is the inner functions of the nation that must generate the engine for transformation. This is a major initiative and I entirely support all of the thinking that has been formed in its development,” the Vice Chancellor added.
Jamaica Civil Service Association (JCSA) President, O’Neil Grant, who also spoke during the launch, indicated that the scholarship “is something that the JCSA has always championed”.
He noted that the JCSA’s Mission Statement “speaks to a highly trained workforce of competent persons through which we hope and intend to develop our country”.
He said the JCSA has also initiated its own programmes to facilitate education and training for members.
“Through our various negotiations with the Ministry of Finance, we have been able to establish various scholarship funds [and] also negotiated for the establishment of loan schemes for the workers to obtain higher levels of education. We wholeheartedly welcome the establishment of the scholarship programme,” Mr. Grant said.
Jamaica Employers’ Federation (JEF) President, David Wan, for his part, told JIS News that the scholarship programme “will enable us to build even more capacity in the public sector by upskilling the persons who are qualified to get this scholarship, and I think it’s an excellent idea”.
“We fully endorse it,” he added.
Business analyst, Warren McDonald, agreed that increasing capacity, especially in the public sector, is one of the needs of the country and that the scholarship programme is an excellent undertaking in this regard.
“It is a good idea. I fully endorse it and hope it can be sustained,” he told JIS News.
Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) President, Lloyd Distant Jr. said he is in favour of any investment that is aimed at improving the capacitation of the public sector.
Dr. Clarke indicated during the launch that the initiative is “something I have wanted to do for some time”, noting that it is designed “to attract, retain and motivate the best qualified persons for the public sector”.
“It symbolises the value we place on building the social capital of the country and… delivering public service at a high level,” he added.
“We want individuals… who want to make a contribution to [national] development to know that they can join the public service in Jamaica and have these marvelous and wonderful opportunities to improve themselves,” he noted.
Dr. Clarke said the naming of the scholarship in honour of Garvey is apt, as the National Hero believed that self-improvement is critical to national progress.
“[Marcus] Garvey taught us many things and… one of them was to ‘accomplish what we will’, which is a command, a statement of truth, and an exhortation. He understood, very well, the need for the development of expertise in order to create the kind of State that can accomplish the collective goals and dreams that we all share,” Dr. Clarke noted.