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Obligatory public service for schol winners under review
Far too many national scholarship recipients cannot contribute to the development of the country when they finish their studies, said Public Administration Minister Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan.
She acknowledged that certain areas of study were not directly relevant to the development of T&T, so it might be difficult to find jobs identifiably linked to the degree held by the returning scholar. She also emphasised that those who accept national scholarships have an obligation to work in the public service when they finish their studies.
“The scholarship-management process ends with placement of the scholar into the workplace,” she said. Seepersad-Bachan addressed scholarship winners and their parents at a seminar at the ballroom of the Hilton Trinidad on October 17 for those who were awarded scholarships for their achievements in the 2012 Cape examinations.
She said of the 515 scholars who were expected to report for job placement in 2011-2012, 39 were doctors, 159 teachers and 131 were employed in other categories, making a total of 329. “However,” she said, “through obligatory service, we are compelled to hire a scholarship winner in the public service and sometimes you become frustrated since you are not in the field in which you graduated and have to serve out your term in what many may see as dead-end jobs.”
She said the Ministry of Public Administration was addressing that issue by developing new architecture within the public service to include various professional specialisations and increasing the possibility of suitable employment for returning scholars. She said the Associate Professional Programme was designed to help returning scholars put the knowledge and skills acquired at university into use in the workplace.
Seepersad-Bachan said her ministry is reviewing the policy framework concerning the possibility of reducing the length of obligatory service as well as possible deferral. Those who do not wish to carry out the obligatory service are expected to pay back the cost of their studies to the Government.
Seepersad-Bachan congratulated the recipients on their success and advised them to be aware of the maturity that university life would entail. A former lecturer in the Faculty of Engineering at UWI, she said that experience had made her aware of the self-sufficiency and responsibility a new tertiary-level student must have.
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