The Taiwan Embassy in Kingstown on Tuesday began presenting scholarships to the 794 primary, secondary, and post-secondary students among whom this year’s US$200,000 allocation will be divided.
“Students, I’m here to encourage you work hard in your studies because we believe that everyone could not only reach their potential through education but also change the life of themselves. And I do believe [that] one day you will contribute your expertise to not only here in St. Vincent and Grenadines but [also] the whole world,” Taiwan ambassador to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Calvin Ho told the presentation ceremony in Kingstown.
The Taiwan Scholarship was launched in 1998 to assist financially disadvantaged students in SVG with their education.
Between 1998 and 2016, Taiwan donated US$100,000 to the programme annually, but increased the budget to US$200,000 annually in 2017.
Over the years, a total of US$2,100,000 has been allocated to this scholarship programme and thousands of students have benefited from it, Ho said.
“This year, myself and my colleague will also visit some rural communities of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to better know the learning environment and needs of students and schools,” the diplomat said, adding that over the next two weeks, similar ceremonies will be held in Georgetown, Barrouallie, Bequia, and Marriaqua and at the Community College.
He noted that in August, 20 more Vincentians left for Taiwan to pursue degrees under those scholarship programmes.
“This will take the total number of scholarship recipients to 163 since 2004,” Ho said.
“I would also like to inform you that, with Taiwan’s scholarships, we have received more and more talented Vincentian youths obtained their degrees in Taiwan’s universities and now come back to serve your country every year in fields of IT, medicine, agriculture, energy, tourism, business and so on.
“Meanwhile, our government also provides short-term training courses including vocational training, nursing, agricultural development and mandarin for people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he said.
Speaking at the ceremony, Minister of Education, St. Clair Jimmy Prince congratulated Taiwan “for being such a very important fillip in our education revolution and they have been doing so for a very long time and we thank them very much for it.”
He said the 35-year relationship between Taipei and Kingstown has a productive history and he is happy to say that Taiwan is one of SVG’s closest friends.
Prince said that his Unity Labour Party has helped to strengthen this relationship over the years.
“And it is crucial for our sustainable development and today, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Taiwan continue to enjoy a long and mutually beneficial diplomatic relationship.”
He said that over that period Taiwan has engaged in the areas of health, agriculture, infrastructure development, culture, security, information technology and education.
“We have received support in the form of technical and financial assistance, donation of computers, and the Youth Empowerment Service programme, which benefits many of our schools. I can hardly think of anybody who has not been touched by the YES programme so far — any family in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
The education minister also spoke of the opportunity for Vincentian students to pursue university education in Taiwan on competition of their college education.
“We have scores of students in Taiwan at the moment.
“But, today, we focus on scholarship awards to our students at the primary, secondary and post-secondary levels in the sum of over US$200,000. At this ceremony, 286 students will benefit to a tune of US$182,650.
“We, therefore, celebrate the goodwill of a nation and people thousands of miles away, a people who continue to work unwaveringly to support small island states such as ours and this scholarship programme came out of a memorandum of understanding between both governments and, of course, we have been on the receiving end of it for some time now and we are happy about that.”
Prince said the monetary allocation has benefitted hundreds of Vincentian students over the years as it allows many at-risk students to purchase school supplies, meals, and pay transportation cost.
“The support given to students has allowed many students to attend school on a regular basis an aid in their development.
“Not only are we talking about getting people in school but we also have to consider their sustenance and transportation and meals and books, etc., are very important parts of this particular exercise.”
The education minister said that the programme dovetails with the social outreach programme provided by the government through the Social Welfare assistance to needy students and the school feeding programme.