CCRIF SPC recently presented a cheque for US$250,000 to The University of the West Indies (The UWI) for tuition scholarships for students in need of financial support.
Approximately US$108,000 of the funds are already allocated to undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships for the first semester of the 2020/21 academic year.
This is comparable to the total amount traditionally contributed by CCRIF for merit scholarships on an annual basis since 2010. The remaining US$142,000 will cover the tuition fees of students, who due to the COVID-19 pandemic are finding it difficult to pay tuition and are at risk of not completing their studies. This financial support is part of the CCRIF SPC’s COVID-19 response geared towards supporting its members and other key stakeholders.
University Registrar, Dr. Maurice D. Smith in acknowledging CCRIF’s contributions, commented that both The UWI and CCRIF have had a longstanding relationship and the recent handing over ceremony is significant as an expression for support not only for the regional University, but the talented students who are pursuing programmes related to CCRIF’s mandate.
According to CCRIF Board Member, Saundra Bailey, “Since 2010, CCRIF has provided The UWI with over 70 scholarships totaling US$761,230. CCRIF continues to view its investments in scholarships as critical to building a cadre of individuals who possess the knowledge and skills to advance the resilience of the small island and coastal states of our region.” According to Mrs. Bailey, “During this pandemic CCRIF has both levelled up and pivoted to ensure that our members and key stakeholders are able to better confront and address the many challenges posed by climate change and COVID-19, with The UWI being one such partner.”
Professor Dale Webber, Principal of The UWI Mona Campus and Pro Vice-Chancellor with responsibility for Climate Change and Disaster Preparedness, signaled his gratitude for the tuition support for students especially in civil engineering, geography and geology. He asked CCRIF to consider scholarships in actuarial science, computer science and social work as these areas are also critical to strengthening the region’s response to disaster management.
In addition to undergraduate student tuition, CCRIF has also provided scholarships for UWI alumni to study for postgraduate degrees in the USA and the UK as well as pursue internships at UWI Departments and Centres such as the Disaster Risk Reduction Centre, Climate Studies Group Mona and the Seismic Research Centre and other national and regional organisations involved in disaster risk management and meteorology.
Earlier this year, The UWI and CCRIF deepened their partnership with the signing of a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) aimed at establishing a framework for the promotion and facilitation of disaster risk management, including modelling, disaster risk financing, and climate change adaptation as well as research, capacity-building and resilience-building initiatives to support and advance CARICOM’s ambition of making the Caribbean the world’s first climate-resilient zone.
One of the first outputs of the MOU was the development of a new course called Fundamentals of Disaster Risk Financing for Advancing Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which is currently being offered through The UWI Open Campus. Over 30 students are registered in the first cohort to take this Continuing and Professional Education Certificate course, which offers four continuing education units.
Including the US$250,000 contribution, CCRIF’s overall support to The UWI over the period 2010 – 2020 has totaled over US$1 million through in scholarships, internships, the current MOU and two small grants to the departments of Food Production and Geography at the St. Augustine Campus.
Those grants will facilitate community-based disaster risk reduction projects, support to the Seismic Research Centre towards establishing and maintaining a new accelerometric network in the Eastern Caribbean and Jamaica to enhance the capability for identifying and mitigating seismic risk in the Caribbean, and a contract with Lumin Consulting for work related to the CCRIF-Caribbean Development Bank Integrated Sovereign Risk Management Project.