Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer
One of the greatest gifts parents can give their children is the opportunity of an education. With the rising cost of accessing education these days, especially at the tertiary level, parents are encouraged to start saving to help their children achieve their academic goals from as early as possible.
Heritage Education Fund International, a Canadian Organisation has been marketing the Heritage International Scholarship Trust Plan in Jamaica since 1995. According to Lyndie Headley, agency director in Jamaica, the savings plan helps parents to save for their children's tertiary education starting from birth up to age 13 years.
"Parents and grandparents can save for the child's first year of university or college education. The good thing is they are saving in United States dollars. When the child gets to 18 years old, the parent gets back the principal or savings in US dollars minus a small administrative fee," Headley said.
Parents, he said, can take this money and pay for the child's first year of tuition. The Heritage Fund International Scholarship Trust Plan will then pay for the final three years through a cash scholarship. Interestingly, payments are done each year and are tenable at any recognised or accredited tertiary institution anywhere in the world.
Headley said parents can save up to minimum of US$12 per month and the savings plan can be tailor-made to suit the saving options that the parent can afford. "The plan is flexible, so parents can add to the amount as the situation improves," he said.
The savings option can be closed for whatever reason and parents will receive their savings, less an administrative fee. There are no penalties; however the interest remains in the pool. "Say, for example, the parent runs into difficulties, there are elements of the savings plan that gives them a reprieve. There are also allowances for death of a spouse, and if the child decides not to attend university," Headley said.
As part of its community involvement, the organisation recently recognised three early-childhood education teachers for making significant contribution to education with the use of innovative and creative methods of teaching to maximise the full potential of students.
They were: Aldith Stephens of the Escher Primary School in Lucea, Hanover; Cloetha Walker of Hazard Primary School in Clarendon and Terry-Ann Wellington of Gwen Neil's Basic School in St Catherine.
Since the organisation started operations in Jamaica they have paid out, in principal and scholarships, in excess of US$13 million with close to 10,000 persons involved in the savings plan.