Funding our future – The Royal Gazette

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Created: Aug 09, 2022 07:59

In our 2017 election manifesto, the Progressive Labor Party pledged “to increase accessibility to Bermuda College by providing financial support to students in need…”.

We made this pledge because we believe that Bermuda should have full access to all the resources it needs to acquire the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to compete in Bermuda in the 21st century. We also made this pledge because we have seen too many young Bermudians losing opportunities and falling behind in terms of jobs and opportunities in our own country.

Under this Progressive Labor Party government, we have not only kept our promise, we have delivered and exceeded it. Over the past five years, students attending Bermuda College have received additional financial aid of $300,000 per year, bringing the total to $1.5 million.

For too many years, Bermudians who had the ability but not the means have seen access to college/university education delayed or denied. In fact, the recent census highlighted the impact of lack of access to college education on black Bermudians.

That’s why we:

• Increase in scholarship funding

Owen Darrell is a Government Senator and the Deputy Minister of the Cabinet Office, Education and Works

• Creation of more scholarships and grants for Bermudians of all ages

• Expanded criteria for existing scholarships so more Bermudians can access a college or university degree

In 2019, we launched the College Promise program, which offers graduate students from CedarBridge Academy and The Berkeley Institute with a GPA of 3.0 or higher the opportunity to attend Bermuda College tuition-free. Our College Promise program has 70 enrolled students, who are paid by the Department of Education.

Promises made, promises kept.

In addition, this year, the Ministry of Education awarded 67 students with scholarships and awards. Continuing our commitment to students, the scholarships and awards budget has grown from $1 million when he took office to its current budget of $1.45 million.

This commitment to improving educational opportunities for Bermudians is particularly impressive given the massive economic impact of the global Covid 19 pandemic and the government being forced to deal with the previous government’s multi-million dollar debacles at Morgan’s Point and at the airport.

We managed our economy in a fiscally responsible manner and ensured that Bermudians would not be left behind in educational opportunities in their own country.

The last census showed that for our population to take full advantage of career opportunities within our economy, more Bermudians with college and university degrees are needed. Despite this, the previous government cut funding for scholarships. When we took office in 2017, this decision had severely handicapped the ability of many Bermudians to begin or complete their college education.

We quickly reversed this short-sighted decision, implementing the funding increases and scholarship expansion needed to achieve our goal. This decision has borne enormous fruit for the benefit of hundreds of Bermudians and Bermuda.

We recognize that we still have a long way to go to level the playing field and ensure that Bermudians continue to have access to the training, skills and experience needed to compete for jobs and opportunities in our economy. Despite this, we are making sure and steady progress to make higher education accessible to more than a select few.

Owen Darrell is a Government Senator and the Deputy Minister of the Cabinet Office, Education and Works

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