Samantha Sterling will be pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) studies at The Mico University College in the 2023/24 academic year on a fully paid STEM scholarship provided by the Government of Jamaica.
Sterling is among 1,250 new student-teachers at the institution who will have their tuition fully covered over the next five years through a $2.5 billion investment.
The scholarship programme, which emerged out of a partnership between the Students’ Loan Bureau (SLB) under the Ministry of Finance and Public Service and The Mico, is part of a wider programme to enhance Jamaica’s human capital development.
Miss Sterling, in expressing gratitude, said the support will enable her to “focus on my studies without having to worry about how my tuition is going to be paid and to become the excellent teacher that I yearn to become”.
She said that the investment by the Government has empowered her to “strive for my dreams” of training and inspiring future generations.“
I know that I will become the teacher of change that I aspire to become with the help of the innovative lecturers at Mico and financial assistance from the Ministry,” Sterling added, while addressing the recent launch of the initiative at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in New Kingston.
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Another 1,000 students from low-income households who are pursuing STEM studies at the University of Technology (UTech) will also benefit from scholarships over the next five years at a cost of $2.4 billion.
The scholarships are intended to advance Jamaica’s positive transformation and promote the country’s vision for economic growth by producing a larger cadre of STEM-proficient teachers, entrepreneurs, workers, and employees.
Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, in his address at the launch of the Mico STEM scholarship, noted that Jamaica needs to produce highly trained and proficient professionals who can take up well-paid jobs and provide the human capital to support investment and economic growth needs.
“That can only happen if we have well-trained STEM teachers in large numbers. Maths and Science teachers are in demand,” he said, noting that on an annual basis, only 15 per cent of students are matriculated for tertiary studies in mathematics, science, and engineering subjects.“
That cannot take Jamaica forward,” he said, noting that developed countries probably have 60 t0 70 per cent of their graduating cohorts being able to matriculate in mathematics and science subjects.
The Minister is encouraging persons to take advantage of the scholarship award.
“These are full-tuition scholarships where tuition expenses are paid. You graduate from high school, you walk into Mico, and you don’t pay a dollar over the next three or four years, and then you walk into a job teaching fellow Jamaicans,” he pointed out.
Director for Talent and Knowledge Management at the Ministry, Colette Cummings-McCausland, said that a primary objective of the scholarship programme is to deliver new knowledge and creative thinking to help to push Jamaica’s 2030 Vision.
“The provision of this scholarship will foster the development, not only of the scholarship recipients but the nation, based on best practices, new trends and technological innovation garnered through their educational pursuit,” she stated.
For Executive Director of the SLB, Nickeisha Walsh, the scholarships will ensure that there are sufficiently qualified teachers to fill the existing gaps in schools and to drive STEM transformation.
“As we transition our economy to higher goods and services, STEM plays a significant role in this process, and teacher training must be adequate to meet this objective,” she pointed out, noting that there are also special loan benefits for students pursuing training in STEM at the tertiary level.
President of The Mico University College, Dr. Asburn Pinnock, said that the programme will have a “major ripple effect” on the education system, “which will redound to the good of our beloved country”.
He contended that with more STEM teachers in the system, it will raise the country’s level of competitiveness “enabling us to compete with the best of the best, locally and internationally, ensuring a seat for Jamaica at the international table. The investment provides the antidote to dreams that would have been deferred in the absence of financial resources”.
Meanwhile, Mathematics teacher, Erickay Chambers, who attended Mico through a scholarship from the Ministry of Education and Youth, highlighted the importance of the assistance in enabling her to contribute to her community through education.
She said that through the support, she was also able to change the economic circumstance of her family.
Miss Chambers said that coming from a “very humble household”, the scholarship was “my way out”.
“It encouraged me to give back to my community, because we had to do voluntary hours, which helped us to get familiar with the school system and interact with students,” she noted.
Importantly, Samantha Sterling said that the scholarship ensured that she remained on “top of my game”, as she was required to maintain a minimum 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).“We studied so that we could come out and be the leaders and the teachers we are today. I am a Mathematics teacher who is changing lives,” Miss Chambers said.
Persons interested in applying for the STEM scholarship to pursue studies at Mico are encouraged to visit https://www.mof.gov.jm/scholarships/ or https://themico.edu.jm/admissions/scholarships/ for detailed information.