This was revealed at a news briefing held by Education Minister Anthony Garcia and Minister in the Education Ministry Dr Lovell Francis yesterday at the Ministry in Port-of-Spain.

Garcia said some 389 scholarships were awarded, comprised of 91 open scholarships and 298 additional scholarships, all together worth $61 million. He revealed that girls had won 63.5 percent of scholarships, with boys winning 36.5 percent. “So it seems our girls are outperforming our boys...something we need to look at carefully,” said Garcia.

He revealed the school winning the most scholarships was St Augustine Girls High School (SAGHS) which won 45 scholarships, made up of 11 open and 34 additional. An overwhelming majority of awards were made for Science - some 180 scholarships - comprised of 16 open and 164 additional, a disproportion that Garcia said needs remedying in alignment with TT’s developmental needs.

He welcomed the fact that some five State-run schools had collectively won 17 scholarships. These were Queens Royal College (six), St Georges College (three), Couva East (six), St Francois (one) and Manzanilla Secondary (one).

Garcia said seven denominational school had done “exceptionally well”. These were SAGHS; Lakshmi (42 awards, made up of 10 open and 32 additional); Naparima Boys College (41 award comprising 10 open and 31 additional); Naparima Girls School (37 awards, made of six open and 31 additional), SJC Port of Spain (29 awards made up of 12 open and 17 additional); Hillview College (28 awards, consisting of 15 open and 13 additional) and Presentation College Chaguanas (25 awards, made up of four open and 21 additional).

Garcia said the $61.6 million cost of the scholarships comprised three groups. Some 30 open scholarships to be used inside TT will cost $13.5 million. Some 61 open scholarships to be used outside of TT will cost $18.3 million. Some 298 additional scholarships to be used in TT will cost $29.8 million.

He listed the subject areas of award. Business Studies (three open, 42 additional), Creative Arts (two open, two additional), Environmental Studies (four open, 49 additional), General Studies (four open, two additional), Humanities (two open, one additional), ICT (15 open, three additional), Languages (11 open, five additional), Math (34 open, 29 additional), Natural Sciences (16 open, 164 additional), Technical Studies (zero open, one additional).

Garcia said Cabinet earlier yesterday expressed its concern that apart from Science, other areas exist where pupils need to perform well due to TT’s developmental needs.

Saying his Ministry has been told to look again at the criteria for scholarship awards, he said, “We’ll develop new policies. Scholarships should be aligned to the country’s developmental needs”. He suggested a “cap” in certain subject areas, such as the Natural Sciences.

Francis said the country is short of joiners and tech/voc teachers.

Francis hailed the efforts of pupils, parents and teachers, saying that excellent students are not an anomaly but are created by factors such as good family structures. He hoped each scholarship is not an end but a stepping stone into the future. Garcia said the Ministry has strategies of extra support to help 56 secondary schools whose pupils scored less than 30 percent in the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) Exam.

Chief Education Officer, Harrilal Seecharan, promised to help to the 56 disadvantaged schools to help literacy, numeracy and psycho-social issues, including using lessons learnt from successful schools. Pressed about the huge gap between State and denominational schools which respectively won three percent and 97 percent of the scholarships, Garcia said he hoped all schools would operate at their optimum.

RAQUEL SHOCKED The only goal Raquel Le Blanc set for herself was to do well in the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) and maybe win a scholarship. As the 2017 President’s Medal winner for Business, she’s exceeded even her own expectations.

“I was extremely shocked but also grateful,” the effervescent 18 year old told the Newsday at her Maraval home.Le Blanc graduated from St Joseph’s Convent, Port-of- Spain earlier this year with grade ones in Management of Business, Accounting, Economics, Literatures in English, as well as Caribbean and Communications studies. “I have a passion for business. I loved economics in school. It’s all just so interesting. I loved it,” she said. She was also full of praise for her teachers at St Joseph’s Convent.

“The teachers at Convent were the best motivators. The whole business department really motivates you to learn. They are excellent,” she gushed. She especially singled out her Management and Accounting tutor Donald Subit, and her economics teacher Wajad Mollick. Despite her bubbly disposition, Raquel was still slightly overwhelmed by the achievement, but it wasn’t surprising to her parents, Andre and Mera LeBlanc.

“They were the best—it’s more their President’s Medal than mine,” she said. Her parents were obviously proud and praised their daughter’s drive. “She’s always been very self-motivated—in fact we’ve had to tell her to slow down at times. She knows what she wants and will work hard for it,” Mrs Le Blanc said. “We were there to lend her the moral and family support. She made up her mind she wanted to do the best that she could. We encouraged her; gave her her space and any assistance, advice that she needed. Sometimes all she needed was just a little counselling because the work was almost never-ending. We just helped her to manage the process and workload.

I think the rest was up to her, her teachers and her own motivation,” Mr Le Blanc added.

Raquel admitted she had been nervous during her exams, and as soon as they were over, she celebrated her relief binge-watching Netflix.

“I honestly did nothing. It was wonderful,” she said. Now, she’s a first year law student at the University of the West Indies. “Law has always intrigued me. I always liked how lawyers looked. But seriously, I think it’s a noble profession. My dad is a lawyer; I guess I was always looking at him as a role model. It’s a dynamic profession and I get the ability to help people,” she said.

PRIYA’S JOY Celebratory. That word explained the mood at Priya Maraj’s home yesterday when Newsday arrived to interview her about receiving not only a Government scholarship to pursue general sciences at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine but also the President’s Medal for excellence in the CAPE exams.

Maraj, a former Lakshmi Girls Hindu College student, expressed overwhelming joy in the presence of her younger sister (who declined to speak), their mother Kallawatie Maraj and father Pooran Maraj.At the time, Priya was about to visit an old lessons teacher in Chaguanas who wanted to see her, for the sole purpose of congratulating her when Newsday arrived at her Cunupia home. Asked about how she felt upon finding out about the scholarship, she responded in this way, “It feels kind of weird. I don’t think it has really sunk in yet.” Maraj, 18, has already commenced studies at UWI in Bio-Chemistry and Chemistry and intends to continue along these scholastic lines.

Maraj explained that she would like to study forensics or perhaps even genetics because she finds the fields interesting. Maraj said that perhaps one day, she will take up a position at the Forensics Centre in St James.

Maraj’s father expressed his delight simply by saying that he felt “elated” over his daughter’s success



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