Grace Kennedy Foundation Director, Caroline Mahfood, has said that providing scholarships for inner city residents is one of the best ways of improving their communities.
“A nation’s development and success is directly related to the capabilities of its human resources, consequently, scholarships benefit not only the individuals who receive them, but their families, their communities and the nation,” Mrs. Mahfood said.
“Providing educational opportunities for youths from the inner city is undoubtedly one of the best strategies that we can use to effect changes in these communities,” she concluded.
Mrs. Mahfood was giving the main address at a Press Conference and Awards Ceremony, hosted by the International University of the Caribbean (IUC) at its main campus, Old Hope Road, Kingston, on Tuesday (October 6).
The IUC, through its Tertiary Tracks Programme, has contributed 20 scholarships to suitably qualified residents in four inner city communities to pursue four-year Bachelors of Science degree programmes, in either Community Development or Programme and Project Management. Ten of the scholarships were presented at the function.
Mrs. Mahfood congratulated the IUC on expanding tertiary level education opportunities to the four communities – Hannah Town, Kingston Gardens, Fletchers Land and downtown Kingston.
She also commended the multi-location approach of the university, which has 17 satellites in four regions.
One of the International University of the Caribbean’s (IUC) scholarship awardees, Orlando Pinto, entertaining the audience at their awards ceremony at the campus, Old Hope Road, Kingston, on Tuesday (October 6).
She said that this will allow more Jamaicans, who cannot afford accommodation, to access tertiary education. She also lauded the university, for seeking to reduce the imbalance between males and females in tertiary institutions by offering most of the scholarships to men.
“While we applaud the industry and ambition of Jamaican women, it is important to national development that our men are equally empowered,” she said.
Councillor for the Hughenden Division, Audley Gordon, who represented Kingston’s Mayor, His Worship Desmond McKenzie, said that the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) was impressed with the vision that the IUC has shown, in terms of its selection of projects, in such a short space of time.
“There is a critical need for social intervention in these communities, and we are happy that we don’t have to rely solely on the national budget, or donations from the business sector, but that the church and the academic community are willing to step up to the plate to play their part, as well,” Councillor Gordon said.
He expressed the hope that the effort will send a signal to other sectors of the society, as well as the residents of the inner city communities, “that we have passed the stage where we can just sit back, and blame everything on the Government.”
“We hope that others will realise how valuable each input is to the process of the social and economic prosperity, and recognise the role each of us will have to play in building a nation,” he added.
Other speakers at the function included: the President of the IUC, the Rev. Dr. Maitland Evans; Assistant Vice-President, Dr. Canute Thompson; the project manager, Grace-Ann Cornwall, who moved the Vote of Thanks; and Pro Vice Chancellor Irene Walters.
The total value of the scholarships is $16 million. Each scholarship is valued at $800,000 per year. There were five criteria used to select awardees: involvement in community work; displaying potential to undertake University level work; ability to demonstrate financial need; potential of developing as a mentor and effective community leader; and the matriculation requirements of the University.