The University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus will shortly be offering 45 scholarships to youngsters transitioning out of State care, to pursue studies at the institution.
The initiative is being facilitated under a three-year Transitional Living Programme for Children in State Care (TLP-CSC) being jointly implemented by the Open Campus; Caribbean Child Development Centre (CCDC); Child Development Agency (CDA); and Social Welfare Training Centre.
It will also provide the beneficiaries with accommodation at apartment complexes being constructed in Kingston and St. Elizabeth, at a cost of approximately J$173.8 million (US$1.45 million).
Both facilities are being developed under the TLP-CSC, with funding support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Thirty of the scholarships are being provided for female wards, who will be housed at a 20-unit facility to be built at the property on Lady Musgrave Road, St. Andrew, over the next 12 months.
The remaining scholarships will be awarded to 15 males, who will be accommodated at a similar facility to be constructed in Mannings, St Elizabeth.
This was disclosed by UWI Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Open Campus Acting Principal, Dr Luz Longsworth, during the ground breaking ceremony at the Lady Musgrave Road project site, on Friday, November 20.
Dr Longsworth said the scholarships, to be offered during the project’s first year, will enable the recipients to pursue Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) classes and certificate courses.
She noted that the initiative’s objective is to equip the beneficiaries to gain employment, while providing them with mentoring and life-skills training.
“Our responsibility is to ensure that (these facilities are) not just physical structures, but also transformative structures that allow the inhabitants to prepare and to succeed in the world,” she said.
Dr Longsworth also advised of a proposal being contemplated to name the scholarship programme in honour of late UWI Vice Chancellor, Professor Rex Nettleford.
“Our commitment is long and binding, and our partnership will go beyond the involvement in this project,” Dr Longsworth stated.
Meanwhile, Youth and Culture Minister Lisa Hanna, who also spoke at the ceremony, thanked the University for its gesture, noting that there has been an increase in the number of students in State care who qualify for tertiary institutions, with 48 qualifying in 2013/14.