University makes deal with I Am SXM FoundationPOSTED: 10/13/15 4:00 PM
USM President Francio Guadeloupe (center) signs the agreement together with I Am SXM Foundation president Solaika Serbony and director Julian Lake, while Minister Bourne-Gumbs, MP Tamara Leonard and foundation members look on. Photo Today / Andrew Bishop
St. Maarten — The University of St. Martin and the I am SXM Foundation/Education for all of us signed a memorandum of understanding in the university’s boardroom yesterday afternoon. It aims to offer quality career and academic education that will provide students with a solid foundation to enter the field of their chosen profession.
Member of Parliament Tamara Leonard said that the program is done in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education and the study financing department. “One of the most difficult things is to get students who meet the criteria,” she said. The project is to assist the students to meet the criteria so that they are able to qualify for study financing.
The second part of the project is to assist students who have graduated from schools such as the Sundial School, Milton Peters College, Mavo, TKL, the Vocational School and the St. Maarten Academy PSVE. “These students are not coming with the academic qualifications or meet the academic criteria to be eligible for study financing. It is because of this fact they are forced to continue their education through obtaining their GED then to be qualified for study financing,” Leonard said.
Along with the students who have completed the Pre-USM course they will have the opportunity to attend college and enter at the right academic level with a scholarship, Leonard said. The students who are not on the priority list of the department of study financing such as those who are seeking careers in areas of heavy equipment and maintenance, carpentry, welding, air conditioning, refrigeration, culinary arts and performing arts will be given priority, said Leonard.
Leonard stated that students who are born to foreign parents who are legally working and taxpayers and born on St. Maarten, went through the entire educational system and do not have the Dutch nationality and are not qualified for study financing, will be able to obtain a scholarship to further their studies through this initiative. However, these students will have to attend the University of St. Martin.
The other category eligible for the scholarship will be students born to Dutch parents on the French side of the island that are not regulated, not in possession of their Dutch nationality but have completed their education on the Dutch side of the island. They too will only be given the option to attend the University of St. Martin.
The project started with just two students but has expanded to ten students; five for Pre-USM and five international scholarships for disciplines such as the arts and the technical fields that are not available for study financing.
Minister of Education Rita Bourne-Gumbs said that although they are faced with budget constraints the Ministry of Education endorses education regardless to background and race can and will be entitled to education, professional development. She mentioned that when it was brought to her attention one of her concerns was not to have persons abuse the foundation and they must stick to certain guidelines.
“This initiative not only from the foundation but the aspect of community involvement is what I am happy for,” said Minister Bourne-Gumbs. Although she is aware that the population relies heavily on government she believes that it is essential for the community to do their part. She noted that it is important for persons who are not eligible to receive study financing should have a second chance not only through the foundation but by the community involvement along with the cooperation of the foundation.
The foundation has been able to raise between $68-$70, 000 to facilitate this project will be able to contribute to some five students to complete their education for at least five years. Leonard indicated that the initiative will be done through a lottery system where the potential candidates who are eligible will be screened to ensure that they are the right candidate to obtain the scholarship.