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The UWI benefits from Partnership with National Baking Company Foundation for US$1 million STEM Education Programme

(L-R) Prof. Michael Taylor, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology at The UWI, Mona; Professor Dale Webber Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of The UWI Mona; Mr. Brian Jardim, Chairman of the National Baking Company Foundation; Mr. Gary “Butch” Hendrickson, Chairman and CEO of National Baking Company and Patron of the NBC Foundation - all pictured at the Launch of the BOOST Programme hosted on April 27, 2021 at the Jamaica Pegasus. 


In an effort to BOOST science education in Jamaica, The University of the West Indies (The UWI) and the National Baking Company Foundation have partnered for the establishment of a programme aimed at Building Out Our STEM Teachers – aptly called BOOST. Under the initiative, the Foundation will inject a total of J$159,600,000 over a period of six years; an investment set to impact thousands of students.

The official signing of an Agreement for the establishment of the National Baking Company Foundation (NBCF) STEM Enhancement Scholarship Fund between the Foundation and The UWI was hosted on April 27, 2021 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel.

 How BOOST Works

According to NBCF, BOOST is a “back-end incentivized scholarship scheme” developed to respond to the urgent need for more quality STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) teachers in Jamaica’s classrooms. 

The World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report published in 2017-2018 ranked Jamaica at 73rd out of 137 countries in terms of the quality of science and math education. 

With the implementation of BOOST, for the next six years, a new cohort of NBC Fellows, representing the best science and education graduates from The UWI, will be placed in high schools to teach STEM subjects. According to NBCF, the NBC Fellows will receive a scholarship equivalent to the cost of one year of their University tuition for each year they spend in the programme, up to three years, with a further incentive payment for excellent performance. Fellows will also benefit from specially designed mentorship schemes, summer training and outreach programmes and networking opportunities. The Mico University College is a collaborating partner on the programme which has the full endorsement of the Ministry of Education Youth and Information (MOEYI).  

A lot of work to be done

Speaking at the Launch, chairman and CEO of National Baking Company and Patron of the NBC Foundation Gary “Butch” Hendrickson expressed his delight with the partnership with UWI on this ground-breaking programme stating that “The aim of this donation is to literally BOOST Jamaica’s development agenda through improving our competencies in STEM. There is a lot of work to be done. A revolving cohort of the best science and math graduates is one way to increase the number of STEM teachers.”

This, he said, will eventually help to build empowered communities, besides enhancing the capacity of the University of the West Indies to assist and guide young Jamaicans towards a more prosperous future.”

Formally receiving the generous donation, Professor Dale Webber, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of The UWI Mona remarked that “The third A in The UWI’s Triple A strategic plan speaks to Alignment and this programme aligns The UWI’s mandate to provide both expertise and innovation for national development with the desire of the private sector to harness creative means to do the same.” He further noted that “BOOST is an example of just the kind of academia-private sector-government partnerships needed to solve pressing issues of national importance. It is The UWI’s hope that other companies will follow the NBCF example and partner with The UWI for national and regional development.” 

BOOST will be “a game changer”

Inviting the attendees to journey with him in his vision for a new kind of scholarship model, Prof. Michael Taylor, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology at The UWI explained the unique approach stating that BOOST will be “a game changer.” At its core, he explained that BOOST embodies the idea of volunteerism by allowing young people to start their professional life by giving back and be rewarded for doing so.  Additionally, he shared that it provides beneficiaries with employment immediately on graduation and supplies the education sector with a steady stream of new STEM teachers each year.”

“In the long run it will enhance STEM competencies in the future workforce and thereby contribute to national development. It is a win-win for all involved. The NBCF must be hailed as a leader amongst its peers for seeing the value in the programme and partnering to make it a reality,” Prof Taylor said.


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