Round Table with Oscar
July 1, 2014
A people’s scholarship fund

The Union Methodist School, or New Grounds School, began its mission, it is believed, in 1891. It was still a modest operation when it provided its most critical and needed schooling to surrounding communities. They included a network of mountain villages and estate settlements that stretched from Mt.Greenan in the north to South Union, climbing into inland areas like Chapmans and Greiggs. Today, we call that spread of territory “South Central Windward”. That was the mission field of the historic New Grounds School. Today, I would guess that there may be about a thousand past students of the Union Methodist School alive on our planet, in all kinds of positions.{{more}}

Now, over the past 14 years or so, one of the former students of the school, like other persons in the Vincentian community, has given financial and other support to a number of young students to pursue their studies in secondary school, community college and recently, at the University of the West Indies. Given from the heart, such modest seed money starting from EC$40.00 per month has already borne a rich harvest.

Imagine how much richer the harvest can be if we put seed money like that in an organized pool for the same purpose. What would be even more rewarding is investing from the ‘seed bank’ on the needy and motivated youth – “the least among my people,’’ Matthew 25.36… Making love gifts like this will open doors in the personal lives of our youths, in new directions for our communities and nations, and in eternity! Matt 25. 34-36.



Providing scholarships for persons to study at university is a thing that governments, businesses and international organizations do, but on Wednesday, 18th June, there was a launching of a university scholarship fund by past students (alumni/alumnae) of Union Methodist School, and their friends. An undergraduate scholarship will be available to candidates from the area for the 2014/2015 university year. It is a bold imaginative initiative, a visionary step, to say to the low income qualified and aspiring youth of the countryside: “your own people want to send one of you each year to become a university educated person to serve our nation.” At the Methodist Chapel in New Grounds, the gathering was made up of post secondary students, parents, past students of the school, two headmasters – one former and one actual – of the school, and members of the Board of Directors of the Fund.

The Union Methodist Alumnae and Friends Scholarship Fund (UMAAFSF) has a six-member Board of Directors. The members are Mr Errol Allen – Chair, Mr Ronald Rose, Ms Cleopatra Jackson, Mrs Norma Jackson, Ms Yvette Spencer, and Mr Oscar Allen. At the launch, on 18th June, four of the directors spoke to the gathering and generated a probing and lively discussion with those present. Persons present learned from the directors how the idea all began, where it has reached now and the direction in which it is headed. The gathering was encouraged to believe in our youths and to help raise the ceiling over their heads. To apply for a scholarship, an application form, supplying necessary information, a short essay, an interview, and acceptance from university were all required and a panel of assessors would shortlist the candidates, if necessary. Those present learned also that some support would be given to students at secondary school and community college and other quality technical upgrade, and that for a student to maintain his/her scholarship the performance each year must meet academic and attitudinal standards that merit the continued support. Members of the meeting supported the call to bond together around the “alma mater” – their school, and also in advancing the cause of our challenged youth.

The UMAAFSF past students and friends scholarship fund also noted it desires to do education promotion. It is inviting all interested persons to write and present a short story of 600 to 800 words. The most striking of these stories will be presented to the public and the writer of the most creative of all will receive a white Apple iPad mini. Each story must be submitted with an EC$10.00 registration fee, and stories may be submitted through Jujube Bookstore, Kingstown or Highway Bookstore, San Souci. The deadline for short story submission is 30th July, 2014 and the topics are:

1. “Chatoyer Laughed”

2. “Nobody knows the trouble I see.”

In addition to student support and education promotion, the organization plans to make students in the area more aware of other opportunities for study that may be on offer. Other community education projects will in time be considered.

The question that we must answer is: “How do we sustain an initiative like this?” Only through our believing in it, giving to it and promoting it among our contacts and friends. At present the fund stands at EC $36,000, after about six months. It is enough for the coming academic year 2014/2015. It must grow. Already one of the students who received support in the early years has contributed EC$1,000, with a pledge to continue the support. Smaller and larger donations will help full the bucket.

Look out soon for the website; keep in touch and let’s do this thing in other community networks. This is another emancipation programme.