Jamaica News: Minister of National Security, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, says great things are happening in inner-city communities, where many young people have been making their mark in a positive way.
Dr. Chang, who was addressing the St. James North Western Constituency Development Fund (CDF) Education Grant award ceremony, at the University of the West Indies Western Campus, in Montego Bay, on August 15, said the success stories have also been helpful in changing the narrative in some of these communities, which have been stigmatised and vilified over the years.
“In some of these tough inner-city communities, we are now seeing doctors, pharmacists, teachers, lawyers and engineers emerging,” the Minister noted.
“There have been so many success stories that have been happening, but have gone mostly unreported. This scholarship programme which was conceptualised in 2002 for students going on to tertiary institutions have really been making a huge difference,” he added.
Dr. Chang highlighted a story where he met a young high school girl from the St. James North West Constituency, where he is the Member of Parliament, who was having financial challenges.
The Minister said he told her that if she got good grades in her Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), he would ensure she got a solid start in college.
“I also told her that for every distinction she got I would give her a prize and she got 10 distinctions in the 10 subjects she took,” Dr. Chang reminisced.
“That was quite a commitment as we had to cover her fees to go to the community college,” he said.
Dr. Chang also spoke about another graduate of the programme, Dr. Jason Bowen, who hails from the community of Glendevon, and who can best be described as a classic example of “grit and determination.”
“As he will readily tell you, when he left Cornwall College, where he was Head Boy, the only source of funding he had to pay tuition fee to attend the University of the West Indies for the five-year programme was from the St. James North West CDF Annual Scholarship Programme,” the Minister noted.
“This is an inner-city child whose parents just didn’t have the money to support him, yet he turned out to be one of the most outstanding students in all of Jamaica. What is clearly obvious is that what many of these youngsters truly want is a chance,” he said.
Dr. Chang said there are numerous stories such as Dr. Bowen’s, and that he is happy to assist students in his constituency to attain a quality education.
“The surest way to escape poverty and improve your status in life is through a sound education. I have made a commitment along with my team that we will not look at anybody as being irredeemable, and will do all we can to assist. As I have said repeatedly, I have a tough urban constituency, but there are also some really bright and humble people in there,” he added.
For her part, budding pharmacist and former grant recipient, Tia Ferguson, said she remembered having only $2,000 at her disposal on her first day at the University of Technology, only to be given an eleventh hour reprieve with a grant from the scholarship programme.
“I am a living testament to the wonderful work of this programme, which has assisted many students from these inner-city communities here in St. James North Western,” she said.
Source: JIS News