Jamaica is advancing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education with full scholarships valued at $2.5 billion for 1,250 new student-teachers at The Mico University College.
Speaking at the launch of the scholarships, today (June 29), at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in New Kingston, Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr Nigel Clarke, said the Government has instituted the five-year programme to ensure a STEM-competent workforce.
“The goal is to produce a much larger cadre of STEM-proficient workers in Jamaica, and that can only happen if we have teachers in large numbers,” the Minister told his audience while noting that Mathematics and Science teachers are in high demand.
He argued that for the country’s level of growth to be accelerated, as well as to get to the “next phase of development,” Jamaica must produce far more STEM-capable students from the secondary education system, and “all of that starts with teachers”.
The Minister pointed out that the programme is the largest scholarship initiative by the Ministry, adding that “it represents a very necessary investment in Jamaica’s future, and we expect that these teachers, with the benefit of the scholarships, will go into the education system and make a difference”.
The Finance Ministry is partnering with the Students’ Loan Bureau (SLB), and The Mico University to deliver the scholarship programme.
Dr Clarke had announced the initiative during his budget debate presentation in March.
At the launch ceremony, the three entities signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the execution of the scholarships.
Dr Clarke said Jamaica is in the middle of a “great positive transformation”, with multiple infrastructural programmes taking place at the same time, and “this transformation is by design”.
The Minister emphasised that the only way to retain more value-added jobs over the medium to long term is to “ensure that we have our human capital at a level where it can demand higher-value investments”.