(SKNIS) – As the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis continues to make strides in promoting human development through education, it has once again partnered with the Cuban Government, who has awarded students of the Federation the opportunity to pursue tertiary studies in Cuba.

The Cuban Embassy hosted its annual scholarship awards ceremony on Friday July 1, 2016, moving forward with its aim to provide eligible students with an opportunity to pursue advanced education. Eight (8) recipients were lauded with congratulatory remarks and words of encouragement at the Cuban Embassy. Monique Harry, Simoneth Williams, Davishorn Buckshon (already in Cuba), Tishima Browne and Jeffvancia Matthew will be studying Medicine; Ava Spencer-Crawford and Carrie Bussue will study Health Technology; and Andre Hanley will study Civil Engineering.

Resident Cuban Ambassador to St. Kitts and Nevis, His Excellency Hugo Ruiz Cabrera, congratulated the students and emphasized that it is the Cuban Government’s “unwavering decision” to continue to support Caribbean countries in developing their human capital through providing opportunities for tertiary education despite the country’s economic situation. His Excellency Cabrera thanked the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis, who he said “has been a strong supporter” of Cuba for more than two decades, especially in rallying for the removal of the US embargo against his country.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Honourable Shawn Richards, conveyed congratulatory remarks and words of encouragement to the recipients of the scholarships, while thanking the Cuban Government for partnering with St. Kitts and Nevis, not only in the area of Education but in other areas including Medicine.

Minister Richards asked the students to view the scholarship as a privilege.

“I want to say to you the recipients that you have been given an opportunity that many more persons would have been happy to take advantage of.”

The Minister of Education further encouraged the recipients to make their educational experience a holistic one.

“Going off to study is not just about what you learn within the walls of the university or the classroom; it is much more than that.”

He enlightened the recipients of the scholarship of the benefit of being exposed to learning a foreign language.

“When you come back to St. Kitts and Nevis, you come back not only as an expert in the area you would have gone off to study but you come back also with the advantage of being able to speak a second language, as the world becomes more globalized.”

Also, the minister admonished the recipients to be reputable representatives of the Federation.

“You will be ambassadors for St. Kitts and Nevis while you are in Cuba and so apart from having your own self-respect and wanting to ensure that you carry and portray yourself in a certain manner, also remember you will be looked at as students of St. Kitts and Nevis.”

In concluding his remarks, the Minister of Education apprised the students that pursuing higher education will encompass difficulties but that their resilience to attain their goals should be their drive to succeed.

“You will encounter challenges, but challenges are a part of life and I do believe that challenges help to build character.”

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kaye Bass, underscored the long diplomatic relationship between St. Kitts and Nevis and the Republic of Cuba for 31 years and extended congratulations on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and his Ministry to the scholarship awardees and the Cuban Government for its assistance in the training of citizens.

President of the St. Kitts and Nevis Cuba-Association, Mrs. Telca Wallace, said that the Association functions to support students studying in Cuba and equally to support the parents of those studying in Cuba. She thanked the Cuban Government for its continued support.

“Our human resource in St. Kitts and Nevis would be richer for the fact that you have taken this challenge to go and educate yourself. I want to challenge all of you to make the best of this because at the end it would benefit not just yourself but the country as well,” Mrs. Wallace said.

To date, over 106 citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis have graduated from Cuban universities under this bilateral cooperation. The eight (8) new scholarship recipients will increase the current number of students from the Federation studying in Cuba to forty-three (43).

The ceremony was attended by officials from the Government including Cabinet Secretary Mrs. Josephine Huggins; Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Mr. Osbert DeSuza; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Kaye Bass; Ms. Jamilah Adams and Personnel Officer in the Human Resource Management Department. Members of the St. Kitts and Nevis -Cuba Friendship Association, including Mrs. Telca Wallace, President, and Mr. Earle Clarke, Public Relations Officer, officials from the Cuban Embassy and parents of the scholarship awardees were also in attendance.