Western Bureau:Some 175 tertiary students from vulnerable communities in western Jamaica were recently awarded tuition scholarships by the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP), one of the outreach arms of the Ministry of National Security.
During the presentation ceremony, which took place at the Seventh-day Adventist Conference Centre in Mt Salem, Montego Bay, the scholarship recipients were presented with funds ranging from $110,000 to $300,000, depending on the area of study being pursued.
Speaking at the function, National Security Minister Peter Bunting said the CSJP is the ministry's main vehicle for implementing social-intervention programmes to combat crime and violence in communities.
According to Bunting, the programme is quite expensive, but his ministry was committed to its success as the Government is determined to bring back civility and good order to communities being plagued by social disorder.
"In 2011 alone, expenditure in the 50 volatile communities totalled nearly $1 billion, and for 2012, it will be a similar figure," said Bunting, who noted that the CSJP is not designed to remain in each community permanently.
REDUCING CRIME AND VIOLENCE
The minister said the hope is that the measures implemented in each community will help to improve crime and violence statistics, paving the way for the CSJP to move to other needy communities. He also noted that the CSJP cannot be a short-term programme because the culture change that it is trying to instil in each community will not happen overnight.
"This assistance being offered will go a far way in empowering our youth to contribute more effectively and meaningfully to community development," Bunting said.
Congratulating the scholarship recipients, Bunting encouraged them to be catalysts for positive change in the communities they come from. He also urged them to be appreciative of the investment Jamaican taxpayers have made in them.
"I congratulate all recipients of the scholarships today and challenge you to remain focused, stay in school, do well, and come out as citizens who will make your communities and your families proud."
The scholarships were awarded based on a number of criteria, including financial need, academic performance, and community service.
The awardees came from the communities of Anchovy, Canterbury, Farm Heights, Flanker, Glendevon, Granville, Green Pond, Mount Salem, Norwood, Rose Heights and Salt Spring in St James; as well as Russia and Whitehall in Westmoreland.
Since 2007, nearly 6,729 persons islandwide have received scholarships from the CSJP. For the 2012-2013 academic year, the CSJP is assisting 440 students in western Jamaica to the tune of approximately $23 million.