A total of 60 students have received a well-needed financial boost from the Victoria Mutual Building Society (VMBS) under the institution's 27th annual scholarship and awards 'Head Start' programme.
The students, who are studying at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels at institutions across the island, were presented with scholarships and bursaries worth over
$2 million at an awards ceremony held on Friday (August 24), at the Knutsford Court hotel in New Kingston. Included was the presentation of special Jamaica 50 Bursaries in commemoration of Jamaica’s 50th Anniversary of Independence.
Education Minister, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites, in his remarks at the function, congratulated the students on their achievements, while also commending VMBS for its continued investment in education.
He also hailed the parents and guardians, “who saw it as very important that you should study hard, that you should eat well, sleep well, and generally grow to the point where you could be ranked among the most excellent of our young people."
Mr. Thwaites pointed to the need for more interest and focus to be placed on education, stating that this is critical “if we want to advance as a people."
"The Education Ministry is the largest Ministry of government and the educational enterprise, pulled together, is the largest business in Jamaica, public or private,” he stated. “Therefore we need to be very conscious of what is really meaningful to us."
Senior Vice-President, Group Strategy, VMBS, Allan Lewis also commended the awardees for “demonstrating a commitment to achieving excellence in your academic pursuits”.
He informed that the awards ceremony is one of the institution’s signature events for the past 27 years, and forms part of the VMBS' Schools Savings programme, which seeks to provide financial education to students attending primary and secondary schools.
Students are eligible for the awards not only on the basis of academic achievement, but by also being members of the VMBS. “The aim is to help young Jamaicans develop the habit of saving at an early age. The ability to forego pleasurable pursuits today, to obtain even more pleasure and happiness in the future is one of the most important characteristics of successful men and women,” Mr. Lewis noted.
The scholarships were presented in five categories this year.
These are the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) ‘Head-Start’ Bursary, valued at $8,000 each, which was presented to the 40 top GSAT performers at their respective primary schools; while six scholarships, valued at $30,000 each, for five years, were awarded under the Junior Plan ‘Head-Start’ Scholarship to the overall top-performing GSAT student in each county.
The Future Plan ‘Head-Start’ Scholarship, valued at $120,000 each, per annum for three to four years, was awarded to six students, who performed “exceptionally well” in their external examinations, and have been accepted to pursue a degree programme at a local tertiary institution.
Additionally, the Master Plan ‘Head-Start’ Scholarship, which is worth $150,000 per annum, over three to four years, was awarded to four students about to pursue advanced studies in a chosen field at a local tertiary institution; while the Jamaica 50 Bursary, valued at $50,000 each, was presented to four students at the secondary and tertiary levels, who have maintained outstanding grades in their studies.