AN ORIGINAL thinker, he is bright, well-spoken and an excellent conversationalist. Yet, he is only 12 years old.
His name is Joshua Galanis, a past student of Hastings Primary School in Trelawny, who will be attending Cornwall College this new school year. Adjudged the top- performing male Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) student at his former primary school, for which he received a trophy, Joshua is also the proud winner of a Jamaica 50 PetroCaribe Scholarship based on his GSAT performance.
These scholarships are just some of the fruits of an initiative which started in 2006 when the Government of Venezuela and 18 Caribbean countries partnered on the PetroCaribe Initiative of Venezuela, spearheaded by its President Hugo Chavez, in response to escalating international oil prices.
The programme of deferred payments for Venezuelan oil is designed to contribute to the energy security of the participating countries to promote social and economic development. The Government of Jamaica created the PetroCaribe Development Fund to manage the proceeds coming to Jamaica.
50 Scholarships TO HONOUR Jamaica 50
This year, the commemoration of Jamaica's 50th year of Independence, the Government awarded 50 scholarships for secondary and tertiary level studies along with 27 merit awards for outstanding performance in the GSAT examinations.
The PetroCaribe Fund is contributing $209 million to cover the cost of the scholarships, each of which is valued at $180,000 annually.
When Joshua got the call that he had received the scholarship, he immediately rushed to school to tell his principal. For his mother, Carlete Campbell, who works at the National Water Commission, the reaction was slower in coming. At first she thought it was a prank call, but when convinced it was genuine, she became "happy and elated". She had just attended an orientation session at Cornwall College and was trying to figure out where the money would come from to send her boy to that school.
In the rural community of Deeside, Trelawny, where he lives with his mother, younger brother and grandmother, Jason is often called 'Mr Politician' and 'Mr Prime Minister', because of his way with words and wisdom. It is said that he sounds like an experienced man. He said he is encouraged by members of his community, "They treat me kindly and respectfully. They give me - and the other children - guidance and help. This is a good place to grow up."
Joshua is excited about receiving the award from the PetroCaribe Fund to pursue his course of study for the next seven years. This is a critical step forward for a youngster who is on his way to becoming an environmental scientist who will help solve Jamaica's energy problems, once and for all.