Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer
Each year, the Victoria Mutual Building Society (VMBS) Head-Start Scholarship Programme has rewarded excellence in student savers. For more than 27 years, VMBS awards a variety of scholarships, bursaries and grants to GSAT students, students pursuing tertiary education and final-year teachers.
More than 40 individuals received awards in the categories: VMBS GSAT Head-Start Bursary, VMBS Junior Plan Head-Start Scholarship, VMBS Future Plan Head-Start Scholarship, VMBS Master Plan Head-Start Scholarship, and the VMBS Teachers' Bursary. The recipients were presented with their awards in a ceremony held recently at The Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston.
Three scholarships went to deserving University College of the Caribbean (UCC) students based on academic performance, need and contribution to their wider community. So impressed were the quality of the applications this year that five outstanding students who did not receive Future Plan Scholarships but whose academic performance and community involvement were so outstanding that they were awarded with a 2013 VMBS Special Bursary.
Richard Powell, president and chief executive officer, said that over the years VMBS has given sustained support to initiatives aimed at providing a strong educational foundation for all Jamaicans, especially the youth.
"We are keenly aware that one of our roles in the wider society is to facilitate, promote and support education, as it is critical to the development of the communities that we serve, and, by extension, to national development," Powell said.
Powell added that the development of a solid education and a sound knowledge base has many positive offshoots, including increased self-confidence, more effective leadership skills and a more productive workforce, which will ultimately have a positive impact on the nation's economic prosperity.
The primary objective of the scholarship programme, which is an extension of VMBS Schools Savings Programme is to teach young Jamaicans the discipline and benefits of saving as a vital lifelong endeavour. The organisation has granted in excess of 1,600 scholarships and bursaries to an inspiring group of students at all levels of the educational system.
This year, the 2013 Victoria Mutual Scholarship Programme opened to the public on March 25 and closed on July 8. Powell said the 2013 Victoria Mutual Head-Start Scholarship Awards Presentation Ceremony celebrates young people who rise above challenges daily.
1. The VMBS GSAT Head-Start Bursary: awarded to the top GSAT performer among VM Save2Grow savers. The $8,000 bursary is open to students in preparatory, primary and all-age schools across the island.
2. The VMBS Junior Plan Head-Start Scholarship: awarded to the three top performing GSAT 'Junior Plan' savers, one from each county, for secondary-level education. $30,000 is awarded for each of the five years of secondary school.
3. The VMBS Future Plan Head-Start Scholarship: has a three-year tenure and is awarded to three VMBS 'Future Plan' savers upon completion of their CSEC, CAPE, GCE O' and A' Level examinations. The scholarship awards $120,000 per annum for three to four years towards local tertiary education.
4. The VMBS Master Plan Head-Start Scholarship: open to Master Plan savers, 18 years and over, who are pursuing their final-year studies at a local university. The scholarship, which is valued at $150,000, helps students complete their studies.
5. The VMBS Teachers' Bursary: dates back to 1987. Teachers who are members of the Jamaica Teachers' Association are awarded $100,000 to pursue final-year studies at a local tertiary institution.
6. This year, through a partnership with the University College of the Caribbean (UCC), we added the VMBS UCC one-year scholarship for three outstanding students currently pursuing studies at the UCC. This scholarship is administered through the UCC Foundation.