The Bahama Out Islands Promotion Board (BOIPB) is collaborating with the University of The Bahamas (UB) to build capacity for skilled human capital as the bedrock for robust economies in the Family Islands.
BOIPB is contributing $550,000 to establish the Bahama Out Islands Promotion Board Endowed Educational Fund at UB to increase access to university education for students in Abaco, Acklins, Andros, Berry Islands, Bimini, Cat Island, Eleuthera, Exuma, Harbour Island, Long Island and San Salvador. These are the islands on which the BOIPB has member properties.
Under the Memorandum of Understanding between the BOIPB and UB, signed on Tuesday, 6th June, flexible entrance and in-course scholarships for full-time undergraduate students will be funded in perpetuity. As an added measure, BOIPB scholars will be afforded internships at Family Island hotels and businesses to increase their professional development exposure and training.
President of the BOIPB, Mr. Dean Spychalla, who proposed the scholarship programme, anticipates that the biggest impact will be in the lives of the scholars and Family Islands communities.
“The number of students that this will impact in this first year is 13; one student from each of the 11 islands where the Bahama Out Island Promotion Board has a membership hotel. The selection process is going to be done via the coordination between the University of The Bahamas and the local high school principal on that island,” said Mr. Spychalla.
“It may be that we have a student [at UB] from one of the islands that’s been here for a year or two and cannot continue to stay in school because of funding, so that person could also be eligible for the scholarship. This will happen over the next many number of years; 13 students per year.”
The expectation is that those scholars will return to their communities as professionals in the workforce.
“We do hope that they return to the Out Islands to help us grow the economy of 84% of the land mass of the country. A lot of people do not realize that the Out Islands make up 84% of the land mass of The Bahamas and are 100% unspoiled,” he added.
Executive Director of the BOIPB Mr. Kerry Fountain explained that in order to make these scholarships more accessible students in any academic discipline may apply.
“We believe that everybody is involved in the business of tourism, whether you are a graphic artist, doctor, lawyer, accountant or are studying environmental science. These are all services that, we feel, fall under the banner of tourism and that is why we didn’t limit the scholarships to just tourism and hospitality,” he explained.
Mr. Fountain was particularly enthused about the BOIPB Educational Fund contributing to endowed scholarships at the national university.
“We had no intention of an endowment programme with the UB, but as we started to talk with UB we realized that it makes no sense doing this with a university in the US or Canada when we have our own university right here at home,” he noted.
President of University of The Bahamas Dr. Rodney D. Smith was grateful that UB had solidified another partnership that will increase the participation in higher education throughout The Bahamas.
“This MOU represents the tremendous amount of corporate support that UB needs now and into the future to build endowed scholarship funds for students. This will benefit students throughout our country, particularly in the Family Islands,” noted President Smith.
“We are very happy that the BOIPB made the decision to invest in an endowed scholarship programme because this is one way that this scholarship will continue to grow and educate students long after all of us are gone. Hundreds of years from now this scholarship will still be in existence providing education for future generations of students.”
The UB students who are awarded this scholarship, Bahama Out Islands Promotion Board Ambassadors, will also participate in community engagement and speaking opportunities on behalf of the Bahama Out Islands Promotion Board.