NCB to increase CSEC sponsorship

Thursday, October 18, 2018

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NATIONAL Commercial Bank (NCB) Group, through its foundation, has announced plans to increase the number of exams for which it pays on behalf of students sitting some Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) subjects each year.

The NCB Foundation (NCBF) currently pays full fees for high-school students across the island sitting principles of business (POB) and principles of accounts (POA). But effective May/June 2019, it will add two non-traditional subjects, with discussions currently ongoing to possibly take over information technology (IT) and the eight sponsored subjects under the Programme of Advancement for Health and Education (PATH).

The Government presently underwrites the cost of five CSEC subjects — mathematics, English A, IT, one science subject, and one vocational subject.

The disclosure was made at Jamaica College yesterday where NCBF did a live transfer of $13.9 million to the Overseas Examinations Commission's account, the cost incurred for the 3,334 students from public and private schools who sat POA and POB last June.

“We would like to announce that based on our strategic focus, collaboration with the Ministry of Education, and the need to support new and emerging career opportunities, we have revised the programme. For this academic year 2018/19, at the CSEC level, we will now support IT and two other non-traditional subjects. Going forward, we will review the changing demands of respective industries and offer support in subjects that align,” NCB Foundation Director Stuart Reid said.

Chair of the foundation, Thalia Lyn, later explained to the Jamaica Observer that while the increased amount will only be arrived at after the students register for the exit exams, the foundation's sponsorship is expected to grow by at least 50 per cent since there will be no cutback in the support currently going to POA and POB.

“We lobbied the bank to increase the funds to us and they accepted at the last board meeting,” said Lyn, who also sits on the NCB board.

Explaining the reason for its planned increase in the exam bursary, Lyn said, “We realise that trends are changing, and we want to remain relevant. We have doctors and lawyers, for example, who are graduating every year but can't find jobs. It doesn't make sense to be producing these professionals with these degrees when they can't find jobs... We need more software engineers, for example. NCB needs people in the agile labs and they can't find them. So, we figure that if we support them now, we will be the employer of choice in future. It's very strategic what we're doing.”

NCB says it has funded the CSEC bursary programme to the tune of $141 million since it started 15 years ago. That translates to more than 100,000 students and a sit rate of 90 per cent. Its total investment in educational initiatives over the period is more than $250 million.

“Our flagship NCB CSEC National Bursary Programme... fills a gap in the education sector, reinforcing the Ministry of Education's efforts to grant subsidies for [five] CSEC subjects. With the NCB Foundation funding the full cost for POA and POB, students now have the opportunity to sit [seven] subjects at no cost to them and meet the five-subject minimum requirement for university studies,” said Reid.

The foundation is funded by the profits of the entire NCB Group.

— Kimone Thompson

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