The announcement came from the twin-island nation’s Minister of Education, Senator Nigel Carty, who said the program is to benefit over 700 students graduating from 12 secondary schools, private and public, as well as to continuing students at the post-secondary educational institutions in St. Kitts and Nevis.
Senator Carty revealed that the program is being pursued in collaboration with and funded by the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation, SIDF.
The Education Minister explained that it is through education, training and professional development that the people have been enabled, given the capacity, to be young professionals – engineers, medical doctors, accountants, lawyers, businessmen and –women, farmers, educators, security specialists, tradesmen and women.
Carty stated that sustainable social and economic development requires a well-trained and productive workforce. “Therefore, opportunities must be provided for individuals to pursue their education beyond the compulsory high school level. Along with access to higher education, skills must match the needs of employers and the developmental demands of a country if training is to have meaningful impact on our long-term development prospects.”
He added that persons entering the labour market must be properly oriented to make the adjustment to the new work environment.
The initiative is being dubbed, R-E-A-C-H, Recognizing Everyone’s Ability to Climb Higher, a program geared towards boosting post-secondary education and training across the entire Federation.
The REACH program, outlined Carty, through the provision of two-year scholarships and grant financing, creates opportunities for students in the Federation leaving Secondary School to easily pursue higher academic learning and certified technical and vocational training.
Secondly, he said, for students graduating from the post-secondary institutions seeking employment, the REACH Program helps them to pursue short-term professional and life and work skills training, so critically important for the development of a competitive and efficient workforce.
He said “Never again will a parent’s inability to finance an education at the CFBC, the Nevis Sixth Form College, the AVEC, or any other post-secondary training program in St. Kitts and Nevis, limit their children’s chances of pursuing higher education and acquiring skills that prepare them for the world of work.”
As of September 2014, every high school student enrolling in the CFBC or the Nevis Sixth Form College will be provided with a basic yearly academic allowance in the amount of EC$2,500.00 to assist them in meeting their financial obligations associated with post-secondary education. To go further to encourage students to strive for excellence and to raise the bar with respect to minimum qualification among our young people in St. Kitts and Nevis, the government has decided to award an additional EC$250.00 to the student for every CXC/CSEC subject passed above five subject passes up to 8 subjects passes, and further, an additional EC$100.00 for every subject pass above 8 subjects passes. Further, to boost student enrolment in special interest areas of study, students who enroll at college to study any two of the following subjects – Math, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Foreign Languages – will receive an additional EC$1,000.00 per year as a special incentive for pursuing these subjects.
To be certain, these awards are also available to those students who are already enrolled at CFBC, AVEC and the Nevis Sixth Form College, and are in their second year or repeating Year 1 starting in 2014.
The REACH programme (Recognizing Everyone’s Ability to Climb Higher) does not cater only to students enrolling at the CFBC, the Nevis Form College or AVEC. It also caters to students who are leaving these institutions and are preparing themselves for the world of work. This government believes that adequate attention must also be paid to preparing young people for the world of work. This makes for a highly productive workforce serving both the private and public sectors whose efficiency is so fundamental to our continued rapid economic evolution.
As a result, students who graduate from Fifth Form, AVEC, CFBC or the Nevis Sixth Form College and intend to seek employment in that same year, are entitled to an award in the amount of EC$1,400.00 per month to enroll in a three-month Professional Training programme. These students must enroll.