By RIEL MAJOR
Tribune Staff Reporter
A TOTAL of $1.5m is being spent by the government to give 150 scholarships to public high school students to continue their studies abroad.
The announcement was made yesterday at an event organised by the Public School Scholars Programme.
Education Minister Jeff Lloyd said the government has spent $40m in tuition assistance.
He said: "With these great and outstanding partners that we have from the number of universities who are here present, who I'm sure you'll be meeting in a short while, this particular group we are spending over one and a half million dollars in counterpart funding for your education and I want to tell you that we are proud to do it, more than proud.
"When I became the minister of education - and I give all credit to Miss Monique Hinsey, this brilliant young lady tireless in her work started out with approximately 20 students, today it's 150. She started out with partnering with three or four universities, today we have almost 40 universities."
The programme is a movement designed to give more Bahamian public school graduates a chance of a college degree by using the existing Ministry of Education scholarship budget and partnering with international colleges and universities.
Mr Lloyd said when the scholarship division was established, the majority of the receipts were from private schools and he asked, "What about the public-school students?"
He said: "We have 60,000 public school students in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, only 25,000 in the private schools. Why aren’t they getting a certain benefit? So, we established this particular programme so that it is exclusively (for public schools).
"In my first meeting with Mrs Hinsey, I said we do not want to restrict ourselves to the United States and Canada, I want you to go to China, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, South America, Africa and find universities who want to partner with us so that we can have our children go all over the world in support and by the support of the Bahamas Government.
Olano Thelusmar, CI Gibson student and awardee, said despite the many trials in his life he is a success.
He said: "You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have. Ladies and gentlemen, everything in life won’t go as expected, but what God has for you no man can take away.
"Today as a result of my endurance I have found my inner strength and can boast of the following accomplishments. I am a proud 2019 graduate of the great CI Gibson Senior High School, a member of the national high school debate championship team, a 2019 public school scholarship programme awardee."
Marcellus Taylor, director of education, said: "Education has been the gateway to life of success for many Bahamians, both prominent and otherwise; and for you it can be equally so.
"I am especially proud that, this year, 150 of our Bahamian public school students from across the archipelago of islands are being afforded opportunities through scholarships and will be provided with the key to new and exciting prospects. Congratulations to the majority of you who are first generation college students."
The Public School Scholars Programme was launched in 2015. To date, more than 513 students have benefited from the programme.