Statement on the Temporary Relaxation of Scholarship Requirements by the Ministry of Education as a result of the COVID 19 Coronavirus Pandemic
It goes without saying that the Cayman Islands along with the rest of world, is currently experiencing the devastating effects of the COVID 19 Coronavirus pandemic. Our citizens are grappling with having to adapt to drastic life changes that have arisen as a result of this global disaster. Each day we discover new unprecedented challenges. Foremost in our minds has been survival and our Government’s priority has been and continues to be, the health and safety of all our residents. Acknowledging the outstanding work of our Government and cooperation of our citizens to control and suppress widespread transmission of the virus, we embark upon the next stages in our journey to restore all sectors of society. This includes efforts to address the residual effects experienced in all other areas of society.
Amongst these residual effects are challenges faced by some of our nation’s youngest and brightest minds. More specifically, the current cohort of scholarship recipients who are pursuing their academic studies made possible by the Cayman Islands Government through the Scholarship Secretariat.
On Friday, May 15, 2020, the Cabinet approved a temporary relaxation of scholarship requirements to allow scholarship recipients whose studies may have been affected by the COVID 19 virus and suspended from scholarship funding to continue to receive funding under Government’s scholarship program in line with the recommendations of the Education Council.
The Cayman Islands Government through the Scholarship Secretariat administers scholarships in a variety of categories to students deemed qualified by the Education Council. The two broad categories are Local and Overseas Scholarships; Overseas scholarships primarily for the pursuit of tertiary studies and local scholarships for the pursuit of post-secondary and tertiary studies at local institutions.
These various categories of scholarships carry with them certain minimum criteria to enable the initial award by Education Council and for the continued receipt of funding from the Scholarship Secretariat throughout the course of study. These criteria include, among other things, the achievement of minimum grade point averages and the undertaking of a minimum number of credits. Proof of achievement must be submitted to the Scholarship Secretariat prior to the disbursal of funds.
The COVID 19 Coronavirus global pandemic resulted in all students being affected in a number of ways.
The academic progress of many students would have been negatively affected during the Spring term, that is January to May 2020. These negative effects subsequently affected the students’ ability to meet the requirements to receive funding as per their scholarship agreement. Acknowledging and accepting these challenging issues I asked the Education Council to review the situation. The Education Council held an emergency meeting on May 8th, 2020 to consider the situation and made a number of recommendations which I supported and took to Cabinet for approval.
It was agreed that scholarship requirements will be temporarily relaxed for one semester for all scholars (both local and overseas);
As it pertains specifically to other discussions related to scholarship recipients;
The Ministry of Education believes that we have a responsibility to ensure that no student in the Cayman Islands is left behind. Moreover, it is incumbent on us to ensure that our scholars are not denied an equal opportunity to achieve academic excellence due to circumstances beyond their control. As a Government we must demonstrate that we recognize and provide solutions to these issues swiftly, assiduously and effectively as we continue in our efforts to make the lives of those we serve better.
The Ministry of Education and its agencies will continue to monitor, and address issues as they arise to support the needs of all our students.