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Bartlett slaps chest over education feats

BY HORACE HINES
Staff reporter
hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, July 15, 2018

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Member of Parliament for St James East Central, Edmund Bartlett has described the provision of education assistance to over 10,000 students in his constituency as the most significant contribution he has made in his over four decades of political life.

By way of the East Central St James Education and Welfare Council (ECSJEWC) he established 21 years ago, Bartlett, who is also minister of tourism, disclosed that over $100 million has been spent to provide financial assistance to students from primary through to the tertiary level in his constituency.

“This for me has been a labour of love over the years. As a politician and a legislator for over 40 years I want you to know that the crowning glory of my experience in politics has been the education of over 10,000 children who are now well-positioned all over the world,” Bartlett stated at the 2018 ECSJEWC scholarship event in St James a week ago.

“And it doesn't matter what else you see me do, fix the roads or put in lights or whatever, there is nothing that is more important than building the human capital of my constituents.”

Under the programme, all students in the 14 primary schools in Bartlett's constituency are provided until all the GSAT textbooks.

His charge to the grade six students is: “I provide you the textbooks and you provide me scholarships”.

The next step is to award scholarships to the students who amass over 80 per cent averages in the GSAT. But financial assistance is not withheld from those who fall below what he dubs as the “80s and 90s clubs”.

For those students who matriculate to the tertiary level, they are also taken care of under the education programme.

He said that under the programme his constituency is “arguably the only one in the Caribbean that can boast of having at least one student in every university in Jamaica and several overseas and every teachers' college and community college.

“So every graduation we have students graduating from universities, from colleges and from teachers' colleges. And these young people are now positioned all over,” Bartlett said at the GSAT award ceremony at the Half Moon Conference Centre last Sunday.

Bartlett was moved to tears following a testimonial from a recipient, Abby Gaye Gordon, who in less than a month will graduate from the Northern Caribbean University (NCU) with first class honours in a first degree in Computer Information Science.

She reflected that a decade ago, after graduating from Sunderland Primary and placed at the Muschett High School, she received a ECSJEWC scholarship.

After leaving high school with 11 subjects, she attended the Montego Bay Community College “where I graduated at the top of my class”.

“I would not have started Montego Bay Community College if it wasn't for the assistance of Minister Bartlett,” Gordon stated.

The assistance continued when she pursued her tertiary education at NCU.

“I left for the Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville where I pursued a first degree in Computer Information Science. In my first year I received the Presidential Scholarship and since then maintained a GPAun of over 3.9 each semester. I will be graduating on less than a month at the top of my class with first class honours. I have also been the top computing student for three consecutive years. I am currently a software developer at the Jamaica National financial group and mark my words, one day I will be at Google!” she expressed.

Noting that the mind is a terrible thing to waste, Bartlett, who expressed gratitude to all the stakeholders who have contributed to the programme financially and otherwise, committed to continuing the programme.

In fact, he announced the establishment of the Ed Bartlett Education and Welfare Foundation to guarantee the perpetuity of the education programme.

An upbeat Bartlett argued that there is no political bias in the awarding of ECSJEWC scholarships.

“We don't play politics with education, we have never done it and we will never do it. So what I have been proud of is that every child in East Central St James has an equal chance of advancing their education potential on the basis of a platform that is based on equity and anyone, once you are in any of my schools in East Central St James, you have an equal chance of benefiting and excelling and that has been a standard that we have carried over the years,” the MP noted.

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