YNBSP scholarships will be honoured

| 12/07/2013

scholarship-logo.jpg(CNS): The government has said it will continue commitments already made to support students receiving grants via the Young Nation Builders Scholarship Programme (YNBSP). A group of scholarship holders had made public their concerns that government was pulling their funding, even though the finance minister had explicitly stated in his interim budget address that provision had been made for those scholarships. Premier Alden McLaughlin has emphasised his commitment to the provision of educational opportunities and development of young people but said that administration of the YNBSP had been transferred to the Education Ministry. "The Office of the Premier is not structured to deal with administering a scholarship programme," he said.

On 26 June in his address to the Legislative Assembly on the government motion for the 2013/14 interim budget, Finance Minister Marco Archer had stated that students who have already been awarded scholarships to study overseas under the “Promotion of Nation Building” appropriation will not lose financial support, even though government was taking a different approach to the Nation Building Fund (NBF) in general. He made it clear that provision had been made in the 13/14 interim budget to continue in these areas where the government was already committed.

Archer said this now accounts for 112 recipients with grants valued at just over CI$2 million dollars for the 13/14 financial year. The interim budget also includes a commitment to maintaining the Education Council Scholarship programme, which has a projected 13/14 budget of some CI$10.76m, for around 1,200 new and continuing local and overseas students. In addition, government funds 61 students via the Ministry of Tourism under its scholarship programme at around CI$600,000 per annum.

Government said in a release that its policy was that both the YNBSP and Education Council scholarships should be managed by the Ministry of Education. Therefore, the YNBSP has been transferred, under a new appropriation, to the Ministry of Education.

McLaughlins said, “The Office of the Premier is not structured to deal with administering a scholarship programme.  It has neither the expertise nor the personnel necessary to do so effectively.  Scholarships are properly a matter for the Ministry of Education and that is why I have decided to transfer the YNBSP to that ministry.”

Government said its immediate priority is to honour the commitments that have been made. In addition it is committed to ensuring that current scholarship recipients continue to meet the standards set out in the existing criteria under which the scholarship funding was released. 

Officials also plan to conduct a review of the entire Young Nation Builders Scholarship Programme, to ensure value for money, fairness to all applicants and transparency in the way in which the scholarship fund is structured and administered. 

A significant number of new YNBSP applications have been received between July 2012 and 15 June 2013 (the cut-off date for applications under the programme.)  The vast majority are for under-graduate and post-graduate studies, and will be considered under the existing Education Council Scholarship criteria and application process.

New recipients will no longer be able to receive scholarships from both the Education Council and the YNBSP.

Other applications, which include requests for sports-related scholarships for secondary education overseas, will be considered in line with the availability of funding and established priorities. No new applications will be considered beyond the 15 June 2013 cut-off date.

“There should be no doubt about my personal commitment and that of the government to providing educational opportunities and to the development of our young people,” the premier said, following the circulation of a press release by some of the scholarship holders who had set up an on-line survey to gauge support for the Nation Building Fund scholarships set up by the former premier, Mckeeva Bush, which had attracted controversy over the lack of transparency regarding the selection process.

Accusing the current premier of threatening to discontinue it and cut off their money, the group circulated a release Tuesday asking people to take part in a survey to show their support for what they said was a scholarship programme that gave young people a chance that had been refused scholarships through other programmes.

The controversies surrounding the YNBSP mounted during the election campaign when the former education minister, Rolston Anglin, revealed that students who had lost scholarships via the normal route from the Education Council due consistent and poor performance or attendance had been given new ones by premier at the time, McKeeva Bush, via the YNBSP.

When Anglin became education minister he made a damning statement in the Legislative Assembly, criticizing McLaughlin, his predecessor in the ministry, for what he said was the disarray regarding scholarships. Anglin claimed he had “inherited a disaster” when it came to scholarships and made it clear  that he would sort out the mess and remove scholarships from non-performing students and that the Education Council would begin to enforce the criteria.

As a result of the “clean-up” by Anglin, some students did lose access to funding but it appears several of them managed to get money via the YNBSP, which appears to have been awarded on the discretion of Bush and not based on transparent criteria.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    My biggest issue with the YNBSP is those who had their student loans paid off in one fell swoop. Look at the spreadsheet released under FOI. Those people should really be ashamed of themselves! You probably think you "got yours" and I can only hope you really get yours when the Auditor General finishes his report on the entire "Nation Building Fund" debacle!

    I also don't think it is fair that some of these scholars are receiving more than the maximum that the Education Council would have granted. Even if they are attending great schools and doing well it is simply a slap in the face to those who went through the proper route and are receiving less money as a result.

    I went through the usual routes a few years ago and busted my behind to receive and maintain an Education Council Scholarship, some private sector funding AND merit-based grants from my university in order to fund my tertiary education. My parents also sacrificed some of the little that they had and I worked all summer long to contribute what I could. I was lucky to not have to take out any student loans, but many people go this route and it is more honourable and fair to do that than to get more money than someone else because you happen to be connected to the former Premier.

    CNS, I would be very curious to see that press release!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I would like to extend my thanks to to the YNBP because it has enabled my child to complete his college education. . 

    Some of the children in Cayman doesn't get the opportunity to further their education for the reason the parents don't have the financial means. Not everyone's pockets are lined with gold.

    Yes, there maybe parents making a fairly decent salary but their monthly expenses may not allow them to contribute or give as much so the children will need a scholarship or some other means of financial assistance whether it be private or Government.

    Our Caymanian children shouldn't have to be subjected to this no wonder so many of them are discouraged and to read some of these comments only will make them more so.

    This is the reason why so many foreign workers are here in the big paying jobs because instead of working together we're working against one another.

    These children are our future. Please support them in everyway we can and get them educated.



    • Anonymous says:

      Scholarships from the educational council have always been available to meet needs such as this. Cayman has many a successful person who came from families whose pockets were not lined with gold. The nation building fund was designed to circumvent the rules of the game. That’s a piss-poor lesson to teach your children.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I hope we see something back for it. 

  4. Anonymous says:

    There is at least one public servant making over 120k a year that has one of his daughters on a government scholarship.  How can this be ignored?

  5. Anonymous says:

    This whole topic is pathetic. YNBSP is a joke and waste of money. There are clear avenues to obtain scholarship through the MoE and MoT, as well as numerous private scholarship opportunities. The only thing holding those people back from that is that they all have accountability attached…

    I also strongly disagree with continuing to fully fund the previous levels of scholarship to the YNBSP students. At a minimum, I think goverment should only fund those students to the same level as MoE scholarships. Look at the numbers. On average, an unaccountable YNMSP student receives twice as much funding as a MoE scholarship student. The difference is that the MoE student has to maintain certain grades and go to an accredited institution of learning. It's a joke…

    As for the students trying to rally support for the continuation of their funding, which was initiated through highly unscrupulous methods (the funding in the first place, not the part about trying to rally support) – I'd say you should be ashamed, but from the fact that you went the route of the YNMSP in thefirst place indicates you have no shame to begin with. Particularly those on regular government scholarship and YNBSP.

    None of these students are entitled to this funding – they should be required to earn it and maintain it like every other Caymanian on government scholarship.

    Government is making a step in the right direction, but they lack the political courage to just to the right thing immediately. Quit trying to please and appease those who took advantage of political corruption in the previous administration and let those who dealt with Mac immorally learn that there are real consequences to bypassing the legitimate systems in place.

    • Anonymous says:

      You  do have persons that bypass the proper channel of the (MoE) Education Department. There were students  with the qualifications and GPA  that had been turned away until the next budget as they were only providing for the continuing students Overseas and Cayman, because the Budget did not provid for any new Scholarships that was their four year story.

      Students were told to fill out the application, and they would be called later, today some have never received that call!!! – this is why so many had to turn to YNBP – remember each year a student is older, and they could not wait –  up until today  I know someone who was congraltulated on their GPA and has never reached out after two semesters to try and assist, only to be told that the 2013 – 2014 Budget would include the Scholarship.

      The writer is correct with some of the things said, but is not fully aware of the otherside of the stories by the MoE (Education Department – persons have gone to extremes in providing documents of their t, but that is all that happened – time stand still for no man that is why other students had to look for alterntive YNBP or other organisations –  WHAT A SHAME!! THIS WAS PLAYING POLITICS WITH YOUNG STUDENT's EDUCATION AND THEIR LIVES .




      • Anonymous says:

        Those applications may be in file 13.

      • Anonymous says:

        So wouldn't you rather say the most appropriate direction would be for government to increase the budget for the scholarship programme so that all qualified candidates could receive it? That seems to me the better solution than to create a separate system with no oversight that not only paid out scholarships primarily on the whims of a single individual. Had the money allocated to the YNBSP been injected into the regular scholarship programme, twice as many students could have received that money as did through Mac's scheme.