The importance of giving a child from a volatile community a fair chance at being a success story has in part led to electricity supplier Jamaica Energy Partners (JEP) awarding dozens of scholarships each year to needy students and their parents.
President and chief executive officer (CEO) of Jamaica Energy Partners and West Kingston Power Partners (WKPP), Wayne McKenzie told The Gleaner that JEP has been awarding scholarships for 20 years.
JEP, now joined by WKPP, the latest addition to the group, has been one of the major sponsors for the past four years of the popular Scholarships To Go feature published by The Gleaner Company.
The 12th edition of the must-have publication promises to be special. It will be chock-full of the usual scholarships and more offered by Jamaican companies, educational institutions, the Ministry of Education as well as private individuals in Jamaica and the diaspora. It will be available on May 1.
Like it has done in previous years, JEP and WKPP will provide 20 GSAT scholarships and between five and 10 scholarships at the tertiary level. McKenzie said the companies under his leadership are pleased to be associated with The Gleaner and Scholarships To Go.
When asked why they keep coming back each year, McKenzie said: “This particular publication (Scholarships To Go) is one where we recognise the readership and reach of The Gleaner. We are aware of the recognition that The Gleaner gets and as a result, we want to ensure that our scholarships that are offered will be seen by most, if not all who are interested.”
McKenzie said his companies also involve the Ministry of Education’s Region Six and Region One, their social media sites and website in promoting the scholarships. However, he stressed that the reach of The Gleaner presents the best way to point potential scholarship recipients to the company. “That’s why we continue to partner with The Gleaner in this programme,” McKenzie stressed.
He said the scholarships that are awarded are geared towards GSAT students transitioning to high-school and tertiary-level students who are moving from secondary school to university. GSAT students remain on scholarship “all the way through to sixth form, providing that their grades and deportment are good”.
JEP and WKPP provide 20 GSAT scholarships each year. “In order to keep it gender-neutral, we have 10 boys and 10 girls,” McKenzie explained. He revealed that scholarships offered at that level are not based entirely on the students’ grades. As a matter of fact, according to McKenzie, “We don’t look for grades.
We recognise that some students (in volatile communities) will find it harder to matriculate the curriculum that GSAT had.” Even so, the CEO was quick to point out that “our scholarship recipients from west Kingston last year matriculated into some of the top traditional high schools.” He said the face of education is changing, with students “hunkering down and doing really well”.
Great Need for Jamaica Energy Partners Scholarships
“I honestly wish we had significantly more corporate interaction in a programme like this,” McKenzie said while speaking with The Gleaner. He noted that the demand for scholarships at the tertiary level far exceeds the supply.
“We get approximately 30 to 40 applicants for five to 10 spaces. And all these kids, all of them barring none, have grades ranging from one to two. We are talking about kids with grades like eight ones, nine ones, 10 ones … ,” McKenzie emphasised.
He labelled as a travesty a situation where a youngster is unable to pursue higher-level study because of a lack of resources. “I really believe a lot of the money in corporate Jamaica should be invested in our kids if we really want to move this country forward,” he expressed.
On a more personal level, McKenzie said the workforce of the companies under his direction have been transformed through education. He is imploring the rest of corporate Jamaica to step up to the plate to recognise the communities in which they operate and see how best they can improve the livelihood of these communities.
In the case of Jamaica Energy Partners and WKPP, McKenzie explained that in order to benefit, scholarship recipients must reside within an eight mile radius of the plant. Community representatives are often part of the consultation process before a selection is made. According to McKenzie, there is a pressing need out there.
Jamaica Energy Partners and WKPP spend between $8 million and $15 million per annum on scholarships
He said: “Parents hunger for the opportunity. I’ve had parents coming to me, and although their kids have not matriculated, they do need the support and will literally give anything to ensure that their children can stay in school, that they are provided with the proper material to stay in school.”
And, the CEO revealed that JEP and WKPP spend between $8 million and $15 million per annum on scholarships alone.
“This just goes to show how much money we have spent on the kids. The good thing about it is that some of our scholarship recipients are now lawyers, some are doctors, and some are teachers, and so forth. They have given back not only to the country, but to JEP. We have health fairs, and a number of the volunteers for our health fairs are doctors who passed through JEP’s scholarship programme.”
McKenzie said he has also had cases where lawyers who have passed through their programme are now representing them.
“That’s what you want to see – a generation transitioning to where they give back to the country, and we are now experiencing that.”
The CEO urged The Gleaner to continue publishing Scholarships To Go because it is making a great impact.
Source: The Jamaica Gleaner