St. Kitts and Nevis opposition leader Dr. Denzil Douglas has congratulated students who received their Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) results last Friday.
But the former prime minister has also expressed concern for students who may be unable to pursue tertiary level education due to the government’s restructure of the former REACH – Recognising Everyone’s Ability to Climb Higher – programme to the SAFE – Support for the Advancement of Further Education – programme in August 2016.
“Today, I am certain that as these successful students contemplate their future, whether to go into the field of work, where they would have very serious challenges, or whether they would want to go on to the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College (CFBC) to study, I am certain that their parents today, as they have expressed to me over the past few days, they just do not have the money to send them to the CFBC,” Dr. Douglas has said.
What is the REACH programme?
The former St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party administration introduced the REACH programme in August 2013, providing two-year scholarships and financing for students leaving secondary school to more readily pursue higher education and certified technical and vocational training.
The REACH programme was introduced to ensure that students enrolling in the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College (CFBC) or the Nevis Smith Form College, had access to a basic yearly allowance of EC$2,500 to assist them with the financial obligations associated with such study.
Further to this amount, students who passed 10 subjects and enrolled at the CFBC to study mathematics or biology would receive EC$950 for passing an additional five subjects above the standard five passes required, for a total allowance of EC$3,450 per academic year.
For students graduating from Form 5 at high school and who enrolled at AVEC to pursue a vocational qualification or transferring from AVEC to CFBC with a EC$2,000 grant each academic year.
The Labour administration aimed the programme at boosting enrolments in the subject areas of mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics and foreign languages, providing students an addition EC$1,000 per academic year as incentive. Dr Douglas has said this was done so that students could “compete with their peers in the rest of the world with pride and dignity”.
What’s changed in the SAFE programme?
The SAFE programme was rebranded by the Ministry of Education “to meet the needs of our students who need it most”, St. Kitts and Nevis Minister of Education Shawn Richards has said of it’s introduction.
To qualify for the new scholarship programme, students must fit within the social brackets of indigent, vulnerable or poor.
An allowance of EC$1,000 will be paid at the end of the academic year to students of CFBC and Nevis Sixth Form College who achieve a passing grade in at least two specified subjects – french, spanish, biology, chemistry, physics, pure mathematics or applied mathematics.
In addition to the academic and social bracket requirements, recipients of the scholarship must commit to a minimum of four hours of volunteer service per month.
The current administration has said such parameters have been put in place to ensure those who are truly in need of financial assistance are given priority, and to encourage them to strive for excellence in their studies and lives.
“With our young people in our mind always, these programmes were initiated by the former Labour Administration and we will do it again. Our students have been robbed of the opportunities that they had by this Team Unity government of Dr. Timothy Harris who continue to shaft the young people of St. Kitts and Nevis by taking away their opportunities of a university and college education,” said Dr. Douglas.