BOOST Programme cops 2021 RJR Gleaner Special Award for Education

(L-R) Dr Andre Coy, Associate Dean for External Affairs in the Faculty of Science and Technology, and Professor Michael Taylor, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology at The University of the West Indies, accept the RJRGLEANER Special Honour Award in Education for the Building Out Our STEM Teachers (BOOST) Fellowship Programme. Presenting the award is Alethia Logan-Palmer, group I.T. operations manager for the RJRGLEANER Communications Group.

The University of the West Indies is proud to announce some exciting news about its new initiative, the BOOST Programme. The Programme has won the 2021 RJR Gleaner Special Award in the category of Education!
The coveted award, which was accepted by The UWI on behalf of a consortium of partners, was presented in recognition of the conception and execution of the BOOST Programme which 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. This need was highlighted by the 2017-2018 World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report, which ranked Jamaica at 73rd out of 137 countries in terms of the quality of science and math education. Over the next six years BOOST will provide a stream of quality STEM Teachers to the education system in Jamaica.
BOOST was conceptualized in the Faculty of Science and Technology and designed in collaboration with the Faculty of Humanities and Education. Expressing his delight at the 2021 RJR Gleaner Special Award, Professor Michael Taylor, Dean of the UWI Mona’s Faculty of Science and Technology referenced the collaboration necessary to undertake BOOST and the value of the programme. He said, “The BOOST programme represents a unique partnership between academia and the private and public sectors in response to a national need. It will ultimately aid in the development of a STEM ecosystem which is of vital importance if the country is to achieve Vision 2030.” Dr. Marcia Rainford, Director, School of Education, The UWI Mona agreed and added, "STEM education is so instrumental to a nation’s development and global competitiveness. The BOOST programme is an innovative partnership between scientists, educators and others, enhancing the pool of STEM teachers in Jamaica who will lead students into pursuing STEM careers."  
BOOST was made possible by its funder and main partner, the National Baking Company Foundation (NBCF). NCBF sees the award as an early validation of the vision of its patron, Dr. Gary ‘Butch’ Hendrickson, who has shown unwavering support for Jamaica’s development through education. Mr. Brian Jardim, Chairman of National Baking Company Foundation noted, "We can't keep doing things the same way and expect different results. It is for that reason that the NBCF is proud of its role in enabling the BOOST programme. We see BOOST as an innovative, strategic and timely intervention, with exponential prospects for improving STEM competencies in Jamaica."
Invaluable support is also being provided by other partners, The Ministry of Education and Youth, Mico University College, Digicel Foundation, Jamaica Teaching Council, National Education Inspectorate, American Friends of Jamaica and National Commercial Bank Foundation.
Approximately a year ago (August 2021), the inaugural cohort of the BOOST Programme, also called NBCF Fellows, representing the best science and education graduates from The UWI, were placed in 11 high schools across 7 parishes to teach STEM subjects. At the end of each year spent in the classroom, the 15 Fellows will receive scholarships equivalent to the cost of one year’s University tuition, with a further incentive payment dependent on standard of performance. The Fellowship is renewable up to three years. Fellows also benefit from specially designed mentorship schemes, summer training and outreach programmes and networking opportunities.