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  • Education, Youth and Information Minister, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, says the Governments of Jamaica and the People’s Republic of China are in discussions on ways in which they can significantly increase the number of young Jamaicans able to study in that Asian country.
  • He said this would be welcome, in light of the fact that “we also have dozens of young people who are teaching the English language in Japan [who] are part of a Jamaica and Japan exchange teaching programme”.
  • The Minister noted that Jamaica also has bilateral agreements with other countries to facilitate academic studies, and encouraged students to visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade website to get more details.

Education, Youth and Information Minister, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, says the Governments of Jamaica and the People’s Republic of China are in discussions on ways in which they can significantly increase the number of young Jamaicans able to study in that Asian country.

He said this would be welcome, in light of the fact that “we also have dozens of young people who are teaching the English language in Japan [who] are part of a Jamaica and Japan exchange teaching programme”.

The Minister noted that Jamaica also has bilateral agreements with other countries to facilitate academic studies, and encouraged students to visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade website to get more details.

Meanwhile, Senator Reid indicated that the Government is implementing several initiatives aimed at increasing individuals’ access to higher education locally.

“We have sought to make it easier for you to get loans through the Students’ Loan Bureau (SLB). The SLB has typically approved close to 100 per cent of loan applications received in recent years,” he said.

The Minister’s message was read by Senior Technical Coordinator in the Ministry, Marlon Morgan, during the inaugural GoHigher conference at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, on Wednesday (October 31).

Senator Reid said in 2017, 99 per cent of loan applications received by the SLB were approved.

“It gives you a sense as to the endless possibilities and that hand of partnership that is being extended to those who may not necessarily be in a position to have the funds readily at hand to access higher education. The SLB is a waiting partner… seek to reach out to them,” he added.

The Minister noted that last year, the interest rates on loans for agricultural studies, engineering, information technology and studies in maritime and logistics, were reduced to six per cent.

“So if you are interested in these particular fields, opportunity is knocking. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is a growth area globally… so we are encouraging our young people to go into the fields,” he said.

Senator Reid indicated that since 2016, more than 400 scholarships have been awarded to persons pursuing teacher training in mathematics, and further advised that the first cohort of 109 trainees will graduate this year.

He urged other qualified persons interested in teaching mathematics to get in touch with the Ministry.

Noting that Jamaica boasts some of the best tertiary institutions globally, Senator Reid encouraged young people, in particular, to “take the time to find out what you can get trained in at our universities and colleges”, while emphasising the importance of training and certification.

He said the Administration’s decision to remove obligatory fees at the secondary level is to ensure that more students can access higher education.

“It is for this reason [also] that the Administration introduced a pilot rural bus programme, which was extended to 12 of 14 parishes during this year,” the Minister added.

Senator Reid also said that the Government will pay examination fees for up to eight Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) subjects for students on the Programme for Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) who qualify to sit those exams.

He contended that Jamaica treasures its young people, adding that “we are doing everything possible, particularly as a Ministry, to ensure that our youth get more opportunities to grow, develop, and achieve their full potential”.

In her remarks, Director of Standards and Regulations, Jamaica Tertiary Education Commission (J-TEC), Michele Small Bartley, informed that there are over 50 higher-education institutions in the country.

The conference was staged by the J-TEC, which is mandated to work with tertiary institutions operating in Jamaica to ensure that they are internationally competitive, relevant and accessible.