1,800 get JISCO/Alpart scholarships
Scores of happy faces lit up the Alpart Sports Club in Nain, St Elizabeth, on Thursday as one by one, young scholars rose to collect scholarships, grants and other forms of financial assistance totalling $13 million.
It was the Alpart Community Council and JISCO Alpart Jamaica's annual back-to-school ceremony, a most-anticipated event for young students in nearby mining communities.
At the outset, the suspense of the announcements and the value of the assistance for each recipient hung in the air.
But before long, the testimonies of triumph over poverty dictated an afternoon of pride, purpose and promise.
"This programme is truly a godsend," said Wayne Richards, the father of one of last year's 1,200 recipients, saying that when his daughter, Toni-Kay, passed her Grade Six Achievement Test for Manchester High School last year, his elation was jolted by the reality that he would not be able to afford it.
But he said that, when Toni-Kay received the scholarship, the burden was eased.
"A weight has been lifted off my shoulder," Richards said.
It was a similar story for Hampton School student Amelia Daley, now in the second year of her five-year scholarship at her dream school.
She landed the scholarship just after her mother had lost her job and had decided to seek a transfer from Hampton for Daley because it was seeming impossible to afford.
But Daley said she is grateful that the scholarship programme is helping her to pursue her dream today.
"My dream in life is to become a doctor, and I am hoping that one day I can help a student like me," she said.
This year, 1,800 students at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels were awarded scholarships valued up to $200,000.
"This is, indeed, a remarkable educational programme," said Camille Rochester, operations manager at the Essex Valley Council/Alpart Community Council.
She said that since the inception of the programme in 2010, a total of 9,319 students have been assisted at a cost of $48.7 million.
Meanwhile, Zhang Jun, the managing director of JISCO Alpart Jamaica, said the scholarship programme is an important part of the company's operations.
He also said the company would continue to impact the mining communities.
"There is much more to achieve as we look to the future," he said.