SLB gets $100m from HEART Trust/NTA

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February 26, 2016
JIS Photo State training agency HEART Trust/NTA presented $100 million to Students Loan Bureau (SLB) last week to be distributed to 250 tertiary students pursuing technical and vocational courses, as well as courses in the STEM disciplines - science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Seen here at the hand over of the funds on February 22, 2016 at the offices of the Ministry of Finance & Planning are, from left, SLB Chairman Anthony Lewars; SLB Executive Director Monica Brown; Financial Secretary in the Ministry of Devon Rowe; Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites; HEART Trust/NTA Chairman, Dr Moses Peart; and HEART Trust/NTA Executive Director Dr Wayne Wesley.

The Students' Loan Bureau (SLB) has received a $100-million contribution to its revolving loan fund from the HEART Trust/NTA to be made available to tertiary students enrolled in technical and vocational courses and the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines.

This contribution is in addition to a previous allotment of $250 million to the programme last year.

Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites, in his address at the handover ceremony held at the Ministry of Finance and Planning on Monday, said this is evidence of HEART Trust/NTA's approach to aligning its offerings with labour market needs.

He said the grant will provide additional opportunities for students in the targeted areas.

"Since we need so many teachers of maths and science and technical subjects, for more of them to be able to get financing, that's a tremendous boon," he said.

For his part, Chairman of the HEART Trust/NTA, Dr Moses Peart, said the move is indicative of HEART Trust/NTA's mandate to identify, develop, support and fund training schemes.

"It gives us great pleasure to be contributing to this for the ultimate purpose, which is to train Jamaicans for employment," Dr Peart said.

Chairman of the SLB Council, Anthony Lewars, expressed gratitude for the provision of the grant and gave assurance that the previous contribution was well spent.

He pointed out that 310 students benefited through this programme for the September 2015 academic year. Approximately one-third went to students pursuing technical programmes; 40 per cent to professional programmes, and less than 30 per cent was loaned to persons in other priority programmes in the sciences, sports education and agriculture.

Lewars said that, already, 256 of those students have entered repayment and are now bringing in close to $1.5 million per month.

This current grant, he noted, will provide assistance to an additional 250 students in the upcoming academic year.

Meanwhile, financial secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Planning, Devon Rowe, who represented Finance Minister Peter Phillips, said this initiative indicates positively the contribution join-up government can offer.

He explained that the ministry remains committed to leveraging relationships that work and expressed confidence that the partnership will benefit stakeholders and students.

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