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Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke (left), converses with Jamaica Civil Service Association President, O'Neil Grant, during the virtual launch of the Marcus Garvey Public Sector Graduate Scholarship Programme at the Ministry's offices in Kingston.
Photo: Yhomo Hutchinson

The Ministry of Finance and the Public Service will, on August 31, commence accepting applications for the Marcus Garvey Public Sector Graduate Scholarship, which will be tenable at tertiary institutions in Jamaica and overseas, beginning in the 2021/22 academic year.

Deputy Financial Secretary in charge of the Ministry’s Strategic Human Resource Management Division, Wayne Jones, says the application timeline will run for one month and conclude on September 30.

The human capital development initiative, named in honour of Jamaica’s first National Hero, the Rt. Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey, will see the Government providing an initial 150 scholarships for public-sector officers over the next five years at a cost of more than $1 billion, with 30 being awarded per annum.

The scholarship is open to all Jamaican citizens up to age 45 who are permanent, temporary or contracted public-sector employees with at least two years of continuous service.

They should have attained a bachelor’s degree from an accredited tertiary institution to a sufficiently high standard for admission to graduate studies in the participating universities/colleges.

The scholarship will enable successful applicants to pursue master’s degree programmes aligned with Jamaica’s national priorities and strategic objectives.

These incorporate business administration, economics, engineering, forensic science, national security, procurement, public health, public policy, and sustainable energy and climate change.

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 is the brainchild of Portfolio Minister, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, who announced the undertaking during his 2020/21 Budget Debate presentation in March.

Speaking during the recent launch at the Ministry, Mr. Jones indicated that the scholarship will be awarded on the merits of academic excellence, job performance, leadership potential, public spiritedness, and character.

Prospective candidates are required to submit online, at https://marcusgarveyscholarship.gov.jm, a completed application form; their résumé; academic transcripts; copy of birth certificate; three letters of recommendation, two of which must be from public-sector officers who can attest to applicants’ professional pursuits and potential, with the third highlighting their character and/or extracurricular engagements; three short essays; and the proposed course of study from among those available at participating institutions for funding under the scholarship programme.

Additionally, Mr. Jones said candidates are encouraged to indicate an alternative course of study.

He explained that the scholarship will cover 100 per cent tuition, with the awardee receiving a stipend to cover “reasonable” monthly costs for living expenses, including meals and accommodation.

“These will be standard rates determined by the Ministry… and will be reviewed on an annual basis,” the Deputy Financial Secretary further informed.

Mr. Jones said for scholarships tenable at overseas institutions, coverage will include return airfare.

He also advised that there is a bonding stipulation wherein successful awardees will be required to serve for five years in the public sector upon completion of their studies, in keeping with the Government of Jamaica’s Educational Scholarship Bonding Policy.

Mr. Jones indicated that the candidate selection exercise will entail shortlisting of the eligible applications, which will be conducted by the Technical Secretariat within the Ministry’s Scholarship Assistance Unit.

The candidates will, thereafter, be invited to an interview with the Scholarship Selection Committee, to be chaired by Governor-General, His Excellency, the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen.

That panel will also include members of the public service and external persons with backgrounds in voluntary service and academia.

He said once the candidates have been accepted, the scholarship will, thereafter, be confirmed at the specified tertiary institution.

The Deputy Financial Secretary pointed out that if this does not occur in the year of the award, then the award will lapse.

Mr. Jones further advised that public-sector employees who have already been accepted into an eligible programme in a participating university may also apply for the scholarship.

Dr. Clarke, who also spoke at the launch, said the scholarship’s establishment indicates that the Government “takes the matter of human capital development in our public service very seriously”.

He noted that the initiative is “something I have wanted to do for some time”, particularly against the background that a number of graduate scholarships Jamaicans have accessed over the years “are funded by entities that are external to Jamaica”.

These, the Minister pointed out, include: the Fulbright, Commonwealth, Rhodes, and Chevening Scholarships.

Additionally, Dr. Clarke said the Ministry’s Scholarship Unit has, for a number of years, provided a grant of up to $150,000 to public-sector employees to pursue educational opportunities.

While noting that more than 1,000 persons benefited from this provision in 2018, the Minister contended that “the size and scope of that does not meet the definition of a scholarship”.

“So, the Marcus Garvey Public Sector Graduate Scholarship, at its core, [will see us] investing in our own human capital in a proactive strategic way. This programme is designed to attract, retain and motivate the best qualified people for the public sector. It symbolises the value [the Government places] on building the social capital of the country and the value we place on delivering public service at a high level,” he added.

Dr. Clarke said the scholarship’s naming in honour of Mr. Garvey is a testament to his cognisance of the role that self-improvement plays in development.

“[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,” he argued.

The Minister also welcomed the Governor-General’s consenting to chair the selection committee.

“This, again, speaks to the importance we are placing on this scholarship… and the importance that he places on development. So we are very excited about the leadership and participation of His Excellency in the selection of scholarship awardees,” Dr. Clarke added.

Jamaica Civil Service Association (JCSA) President, O’Neil Grant, noted that the establishment of a scholarship programme “is something that the JCSA has always championed”, while endorsing the bonding arrangements for awardees.

“Because the value of the scholarships is extremely high, we want to ensure that when persons come back from whence they would have gone to study, that they are able to stay in the public sector to enhance [its] value, and that their own self-actualisation is achieved,” he added.

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