April 1, 2011

Baptiste makes it clear she won Island Scholarship

Senator Anesia Baptiste of the New Democratic Party (NDP) is making it clear that she was able to pursue her tertiary level studies as a result of an Island Scholarship that she won, and not as a result of personal preference.{{more}}

In an interview with SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday afternoon, Baptiste contended that Vincentians should be able to express their conscience to agree or disagree even if they had been helped by the Government.

Baptiste made this response to a claim by former Minister of Tourism, Glen Beache that she would not have been able to pursue studies her tertiary level studies without the help of the Government.

“We need to come out of this mentality. …Even if, I want to make that point, because I think it is a mentality we need to break in St.Vincent and the Grenadines,” said Baptiste . She stated that people must not feel obligated to stay silent as a result of help by one Government or another.

“You must be free to differ,” said Baptiste.

Baptiste said that she is satisfied that she has shown gratitude to Vincentians by returning to serve her country unlike some persons who had not returned to fulfill their bonds.

To this end, she said she has been serving Vincentians since June 1, 2006, when she returned.

In 1998, Baptiste won an Island Scholarship. In that year Island Scholarships, now called National Scholarships, were awarded to Baptiste, Candice Wyllie, Stewart Haynes, and Ian Haywood.

Her five-year scholarship was used to pursue her undergraduate degree in French as well as a double Master’s degree in Hotel and Tourism Management.

Baptiste said she commenced her studies in 1999 under the New Democratic Party (NDP) and completed it under the Unity Labour Party’s administration.

She recalled that when she set about to pursue her Master’s degree in France, Arlene Keane-Browne, the then Director of Training, told her the scholarship stipulated that she pursue her studies at The University of the West Indies, except that she could prove that the programme is not offered there.

Keane-Browne, she said, gave her a hard time, and she only chose to approach the Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves on the issue one Sunday while at WeFm to conduct a radio programme on her church’s behalf.

Baptiste said at that point, the Prime Minister encouraged her to write a letter to the then Chief Personnel Officer, Bernard Morgan, and to indicate that she was having an informal conversation with the Prime Minister of her desire to pursue her studies in France.

Two weeks later, she said Morgan contacted her and informed her that her matter was sent to Cabinet for approval regarding the funds to allow her to study in France. This was followed by a second call from Morgan about a week later to inform her that her letter had been approved.

Addressing another hurdle surrounding raising funds for her programme, she said the Government had made it clear to her that she would not receive travel assistance to study in France, because as an Island Scholar she was only entitled to two return tickets and had already used hers.

Baptiste said at that point, she approached the Hotel and Tourism Association to sponsor her trip to France. She said she succeeded in getting funding to travel from St.Vincent and the Grenadines to England and used some of her scholarship funds to travel from there to France.

“Remember, it is not the minister’s pocket money sending you; it is the tax payers’ money,” said Baptiste. (HN)