Students who are beneficiaries of the Grenada Public Workers Union (GPWU) flagship ‘scholarship awards’ programme, would have to keep their grades at optimum levels to avoid revocation of the much-needed financial assistance.
GPWU President, Brian Grimes spoke on the issue in an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY last week Friday, following this year’s scholarship award ceremony, which was held at the GPWU building in St. George with a limited number of recipients in attendance.
Grimes explained that although attaining good grades is not a new requirement for the scholarship award, it has become necessary, given the challenging financial times faced by the Union as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Tasked with a mandate of the ‘scholarship awards committee,’ which is responsible for monitoring the students’ academic performance among other things, Grimes warned that “if the students are not performing optimally, the scholarship would have to be revoked.”
“This is a decision that we must take based on the (financial) situation our organisation is in right now…the Union is going through some challenging financial times…,” he said.
“…So, in distributing these scholarships, we have to sacrifice (and) if we give you gladly as our members, an opportunity for yourself and your children to develop, we expect some reciprocity in terms of how serious the students take their school work,” he added.
Grimes went on to say: “We expect that those on scholarship to take their academics very seriously…we will continue to sacrifice as long as we see improvement…but if there is a continuous downward spiral that tough decision would have to be taken.”
According to Grimes, although this would be the strong approach to be adopted by PWU in going forward, the union “will not make any rushed decisions” to defeat the purpose of the scholarship, which is to empower.
“…Some of our scholarship recipients are not performing at the optimum level, so they must partner with us…we are looking at empowerment, we are looking at seeing the reports on a term to term basis, and where ever they are falling short, whatever we can do, we will try to assist,” he told THE NEW TODAY.
“But certainly, the financial times are not any secret, especially, where the government is doing its utmost best in my view to minimise the revenue stream of unions…so we have to guard our finances very carefully,” Grimes said.
The union President stressed that the PWU is “zealously” protecting its revenue, especially now with the external shock of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has impacted on its ability to generate additional income outside of union dues like the rental of conference rooms.
“We are looking to, after the COVID-19 pandemic has diminished, to get back on that footing…Apart from union dues, we have the rental of the conference rooms, and other things to have our revenue stream going solidly (and) this is why we are zealously protecting the revenue that we have now,” he said.
Grimes also used the opportunity to admonish the scholarship recipients “to be critical thinkers, and not just recipients of information so that our society and our nation can progress.”
Reflecting on the words of former black South African President Nelson Mandela, who said “education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world,” Grimes noted that although Mandela lived in a society where blacks were seen as less than humans, in that same society, through education, he rose to become President even after facing 27 years in prison.
“Education is not one dimensional, in that you just go, sit down and intake everything. Education is all-encompassing, where emotional intelligence, the capacity and ability to work with others come into play. It’s not just about passing subjects and getting high grades.
“It teaches you, one, how to respect authority, which is vitally important, and secondly it teaches you how to respectfully challenge authority…it is about questioning what exists now in the right way so that you can better it, improve it, or dispute some of the established things that probably are not true because there are many historians cultural ambassadors, what they taught us in school that the Caribs jumped off the cliff, and committed suicide (and) most of these people now, the contemporary historians believe that they (the Caribs) were pushed off the cliff and did not commit suicide like what was stated in our schools many years ago.
This year’s GPWU scholarship awards ceremony culminated with an overall distribution of over $20, 000.00 in scholarships to 50 students, comprising three (3) new awardees, 15, who are continuing awards, and 35 one-off payments.
The GPWU scholarship is given annually to students whose parents are GPWU members to assist with furthering their education at the secondary, and tertiary levels.