For the first time since the hurricanes of 2017, last month the Virgin Islands Scholarships Committee awarded 32 scholarships for study in fields including medicine, engineering, social work and others, Deputy Premier Dr. Natalio Wheatley said Tuesday in the House of Assembly.
“The process was a competitive one which saw well over 90 applications being submitted for consideration,” said Dr. Wheatley, who is also the education, culture, youth affairs, fisheries and agriculture minister.
Dr. Wheatley did not say how much money was awarded or provide further details about the scholarship terms.
In addition to screening the latest round of applicants, the committee also reviewed the Virgin Islands Scholarship Programme Policy, which lays out the guidelines for awarding and administering scholarships, Dr. Wheatley said.
This review was necessary as the policy had not been updated since 2014, and “there are areas which the policy does not address as well as areas of ambiguity,” the minister said.
Dr. Wheatley expects the committee to submit its findings to Cabinet before the end of the year so that “the new policy can guide the next review of applications,” he said.
The minister added that the Department of Information Technology has recently reformatted the application process, with applicants given a user profile and the ability to track their applications. “We must ensure that going forward, we have a better coordinated effort to ensure that when our people are trained, they are also positioned to hold key positions in both the public and private sector,” Dr. Wheatley said, adding, “Providing scholarship opportunities is one means through which the government can continue to support our students’ quest for knowledge and personal improvements.”
Committee members include Chairman Sam Henry, Patricia Archibald-Bowers, Sharia DeCastro, Richard deCastro, Livia Freeman, Dr. June Samuel, Khoy Smith, Shaina Smith and Rekeema Turnbull.
Ex-officio members are Kishyan Cupid-Brathwaite, representing the Department of Labour and Workforce Development; Kaisa Penn, representing the Department of Human Resources; and Sasha Flax, representing the sister islands, Dr. Wheatley said.
“This committee was carefully selected based on their areas of expertise to allow for a well-balanced approach in considering applications for scholarships,” he added.