Friday, 17 August 2012 02:29
By caribarena news
Antigua St. John’s - Fourteen young Antiguans and Barbadians are the latest to receive scholarship grants from the People’s Republic of China.
They will be pursuing tertiary education in areas ranging from tourism and telecommunications to medicine.
The recipients were predominantly male.
The 14 were presented with their credentials on Thursday at the Office of the Prime Minister as part of an annual ceremony that Prime Minister Dr. Hon Baldwin Spencer describes as “integral” to the relations between China and Antigua & Barbuda.
Attending the ceremony were PM Spencer, Minister of Education Dr. Hon. Jacqui Quinn-Leandro, China’s Ambassador to Antigua & Barbuda Liu Hanming, the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, and officials of the Chinese Embassy.
Thursday’s awardees brought to 84 the total number of Antiguan and Barbudan students to benefit from the programme.
Dr. Quinn-Leandro said this is the time of the year that is most “exciting and rewarding” to her as she witnesses the emotions of students, parents, and loved ones as they relish the academic accomplishments of the nation’s youths and their leaps for advancement in their intellectual capacity.
The minister commented on the “gender disparity” in the awards this year and noted that she would indeed like to see a “balance” in the future.
She did, however, express excitement in the fact that positive young men are leading the charge in academic advancement as she pointed out that for the second year in a row, young men have emerged in the top three spots in the annual CXC exams.
“I am impressed by the interests of the students going to China. One is studying the Chinese Mandarin language and culture while others are going with medicine and other areas.
"Never take for granted this most precious gift which had been afforded to you. You were selected. You were chosen," Dr Quinn-Leandro told the awardees.
Further, she pointed out that this year four extra scholarships were awarded despite the global economic crisis.
With the programmes selected, some students will not return to Antigua & Barbuda until the year 2017 and the Minister has urged that the group “hold fast” and remain focused” throughout the undoubtedly challenging years ahead.
"You will represent far more than yourself in China. You will represent your country. You will represent your school. You are now unofficial official ambassadors," the education minister said.
In expressing gratitude to the Chinese government for standing firm in its commitment for yet another year, the Minister said, "We are indeed grateful."
Ambassador Liu said the words "Congratulations… and Welcome...” to the students and expounded on the notion of “Expectation..."
“I sincerely wish you all the best in living and studying in China,” he said.
Meanwhile, PM Spencer pointed out that it has long been his government’s vision to equip Antigua & Barbuda with the necessary educational foundation for its people to face the fast developing trend of globalisation.
It is his government’s vision and diplomatic efforts over the years to provide university level education to citizens and China was first to jump on board since to assist in this regard, he noted.
“This represents an important investment in our people with first class degree studies. I hope this initiative will continue to deepen understandings between our two peoples,” the PM said, as he cited other Chinese funded initiatives and the longstanding unique relationship.
"... We did not have to sell our souls. This is a true demonstration of friendship," the PM said.
Furthermore, he pointed out that government remains committed to the $2 million annual student loan commitment as part of human capacity building efforts and nation building.
Spencer joined the education minister in urging the recipients not to take the scholarship lightly and charged that they work hard and utilise the opportunity wisely.
“Hit the ground running and learn from those who have gone before you,” he said.
He also revealed that arrangements have been made for all the recipients to take part in an extensive Chinese language programme headed by Antiguans who are able to assist in teaching language.
The PM said he was indeed confident that the awardees would represent Antigua well.
“You are expected to be symbols of pride for us all. You will be for at least four years in a different corner of the globe... we are therefore expecting great things from each one of you. Congratulations, Godspeed and Gods blessings,” the PM said.
Ón behalf of his fellow recipients, Chuby Ozumba said that he was indeed pleased to have benefited from such a programme and pledged they will be true ambassadors of the twin island state.
“We are eager to advance in our intellect and to make our country proud,” he said as he commended China for living up to the annual promise in spite of global recession.
“Thank you for the confidence you have placed in us... We will make our nation proud… We are extremely grateful. An investment in education is an investment in the future,” Ozumba said.