Tomlinson urges Gov’t provision of $50,000 grants to tertiary students
Krystal Tomlinson (file photo)
With several universities and colleges suspending their face-to-face classes and moving to online-based formats in an attempt to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), People's National Party (PNP) caretaker for West Rural St Andrew, Krystal Tomlinson, has appealed to the Government to provide two emergency grants for tertiary students, valued at a combined total of $50,000.
She said this move would go a far way in assisting the students in their efforts to overcome the economic implications that have been brought on by COVID-19, which, to date, has infected over 60 Jamaicans, resulting in four deaths.
Tomlinson, who was speaking at an online press conference hosted by the PNP last Friday, suggested that the Andrew Holness-led Government should consider providing an emergency financial grant of approximately $25,000 to assist the tertiary students who require urgent assistance with food and general expenses.
"There are still some students who are not able to return home because there is really no liveable situation to go home to, and they are living on their own still having to pay rent and meet those basic needs of keeping utilities on and, of course, covering for WiFi to access classes at this time.
"That $25,000 as a one-off grant would go some way in helping them to meet (deal with) those burdens at this time," stated Tomlinson.
Additionally, she urged the Government to provide $25,000 to finance tertiary students who need to purchase the necessary tools to successfully engage in online learning, as most tertiary institutions have now diverted to that method of learning.
"That (grant) would assist students seeking to complete their studies to purchase the necessary tools to do that; the laptops (and) the tablets that are now necessary to the (various) learning platforms that universities have switched to (in order) to continue teaching at this time," she said.
The former President of the PNP Youth Organisation (PNPYO) said if adopted by the Government, any student who benefits from either grant should be bonded to participate in community projects geared at aiding in the recovery efforts after the passing of COVID-19.
"Students who access these grants (can) be bonded to community service technology innovation programmes that will be used in the near future to contribute to the national recovery effort in the aftermath of Covid-19," she stated.
"So any student who accesses one or both of these grants would then be required to participate in the months ahead in whatever community service work is needed to bring back a sense of normalcy to Jamaican communities," added Tomlinson.
To the credit of the Government, Finance Minister, Dr Nigel Clarke, has announced a raft of measures, amounting to billions of dollars, to assist Jamaicans, including tourism workers and small business operators, who will face financial difficulties brought on by COVID-19.
Among the measures the minister announced was the Administration's COVID-19 Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) programme.
Under the programme, temporary grants for laid-off or terminated employees whose taxable income is $1.5 million or less, will be available to employees from any sector who lost their employment due to COVID-19 between March 10 and June 30.
According to Clarke, applicants who are successful will receive payment at the rate of $9,000 per fortnight, paid monthly from the month in which each individual applies until June.
Meanwhile, persons who presently benefit from the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) are also to be assisted.
Clarke told Parliament last month that an amount of $1.1 billion in grants is to be provided to support PATH beneficiaries who are mostly poor and vulnerable individuals. This, the minister said, will effectively increase what they would otherwise receive over the period April to June.
In relation to graduates of tertiary institutions, the Students’ Loan Bureau is to waive late fees and defer repayments for all loans, principal and interest for three months, April to June of this year, Clarke announced.