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Six bright Jamaicans, who will be leaving the island for advanced studies in Europe, in various fields, are being urged to return and contribute their newfound knowledge and skills to the country’s development.

The appeal came from Education Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, as he addressed a farewell function for awardees under the European Union’s (EU) Erasmus Mundus programme, held recently at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston.

“This programme opens the broader federalist character of Europe to each of you…the fear is that you will be beguiled by the European culture and not want to return, but truly, what we need is the breadth of vision and experience you will garner to add to the expertise and knowledge needed for the further growth and development of this country,” he said.

The six scholarship awardees are: Kadian Davis, who will be pursuing a Doctorate in Interactive Cognitive Environment (ICE) at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands; Allison Pearce, Master of Science (MSc) degree in Ecohydrology at the University of Lodz in Poland; Shaneil Stewart, Master of Arts (MA) in Advanced Development in Social Work at the University of Lincoln, United Kingdom (UK); Chantelle Ferron, MA in the Learning and Teaching of Spanish in Multilingual Contexts, at the Universidad de Deusto in Spain; Marshalee Jones, European Master in Social Work with Families and Children, University Institute of Lisbon, Portugal; and Jason Holness, MSc. in Global Political Studies, Malmo University in Sweden.

The awards cover allowances, tuition, registration and insurance costs for the duration of study and take effect between August and September this year.

This is the highest number of awardees under the EU’s scholarship programme since 2004, when it was expanded to include graduate students outside of Europe.

Miss Davis, who is an accomplished technology expert, is hoping to use the training to further build the local Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector, which the Government is pushing as a critical growth area.

Her three-year course will focus on research related to computer science, electronic and telecommunication engineering and industrial design.

ICE aims at developing and enhancing knowledge and skills in order to shape a new generation of professionals able to exploit and enhance cutting-edge ICT technologies to design and implement, in multi-disciplinary work teams, innovative solutions in the ever more pervasive fields of application.

“I chose this field because it facilitates multi-disciplinary designs involving users in the design process of software,” Miss Davis tells JIS News.

The tech whizz is the head of the IT Department at the University College of the Caribbean (UCC). She holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Computer Science from the University of the West Indies (UWI).

In addition to devising strategic plans for IT at UCC and designing programmes for the ICT curricula, she serves as a member of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the DiploFoundation. She has also received fellowships from global organisations, such as ICANN and the American Registry for Internet Numbers to pursue Internet governance courses.

Aspects of her post graduate thesis have been published in international journals and she has made presentations in India and in the United States (US).

Miss Davis has also offered recommendations to the changes in the Cyber Security Act and is currently the UCC representative to the Cyber Emergency Response Unit of the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining.

Prior to joining UCC in 2011, Miss Davis worked as a teaching assistant for the Department of Computing at UWI for over four years.

Before taking up her scholarship, Miss Davis says she will be attending an Internet Governance Conference in early July in South Africa, being organised by ICANN, which will focus on security and crime on the Internet and other matters.

“Jamaica has an important role to play and will benefit from this conference,” she says, adding that the knowledge gained is usually passed on to students and at local IT conferences.

She advises Jamaicans to pursue IT courses, especially in cyber security and Internet governance.

Spanish teacher, Chantelle Ferron, who will be pursuing a 23-month course in Spain, is grateful for the opportunity to sharpen her skills in the language she loves, and to contribute to the promotion of Spanish as a second language.

She tells JIS News that Spanish has been her passion since she was 10 years old.

“I have been striving to be a great speaker of the language as well as sharing my knowledge of the language with others,” she says.

Miss Ferron holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Spanish with a minor in International Relations from UWI. In 2010, she completed a post graduate diploma in Modern Language education with distinction. She has a diploma in Methodologies for the Teaching of Spanish as a Second Language from the Metropolitan University of Education Sciences in Chile.

She also worked as a tutor in Colombia for a year as part of the collaborative programme between the UWI and the Colombian Government.

A teacher at the Immaculate Conception High School, St. Andrew for some seven years, Miss Ferron informs that the institution has been using interactive teaching strategies and technology to get children to understand the language.

“We also ensure that we provide a cultural context for everything, so during our lessons we always have to speak something from within a Spanish speaking country to link it to the particular area that we are teaching,” she tells JIS News.

Noting the importance of learning a second language, Miss Ferron says it allows persons to appreciate other cultures and to widen their horizons. She says it is important for Jamaicans to learn Spanish given the island’s proximity to other Spanish speaking countries.

“It is a must as it relates to relationships, trading, and business. The Spanish language is going to be a factor for us as Jamaicans and therefore, it is important that we do learn it,” she emphasises.

Head of the Delegation of the EU in Jamaica, Ambassador Paola Amadei, says there was no limit on the number of recipients, who can be awarded each year under the Erasmus Mundus programme.

She informs that the six awardees this year, brings to 19, the total number of beneficiaries under the programme from Jamaica since 2004.

“It is my hope that in the 2014 cycle, there will be an even larger cohort of scholars from Jamaica and we hope, for our part at the delegation of the EU in Jamaica, to partner with stakeholders in education to bring greater awareness of the opportunities that exist through the Erasmus Mundus,” she says.

The scholarship programme has the objective of assisting individual students, tertiary institutions and organisations active in the field of higher education.

For students, it promotes accessibility to Europe’s top universities and improves the career prospects of students by enabling them to study at top-class institutions. The programme also helps to promote intercultural understanding.

Contact: Elaine Hartman Reckord