…298 persons appliedBy Jarryl BryanOut of a staggering 298 applications, 17 Chevening scholarship recipients were chosen and will depart these shores for higher education opportunities in the United Kingdom and the chance to meaningfully contribute to Guyana upon their return.The 2018/2019 Chevening scholarship recipientsThe students were on Friday evening treated to a reception at the British High Commissioner’s residence. There, they also mingled with past scholars. Jermaine Grant, who at one time studied in the areas of International Diplomacy and Security, spoke about the experience.“The scholarship has allowed me to develop professionally and academically,” he related. “So based on my areas of study, which is international security and diplomacy, I currently work with an international organisation.”“My area of education has afforded me the opportunity to apply my knowledge in day-to-day policy development, helping governments develop policies and capacity development in the areas of development and sustainable work in their day-to-day activities in bettering the lives of people.”Dr Quincy Jones, meanwhile, puts what he learnt to use in delivering health care to the people of Region Four. He is the Regional Health Officer (RHO) for Demerara/Mahaica with oversight of dozens of health facilities and a former recipient of the Chevening Scholarship.Dr Jones revealed that even as a child he wanted to study in the UK. Noting that the experience was “more than he hoped for”, the RHO promised that he would pull on his experience to improve the Guyanese experience.“I plan on taking every bit I learnt at LSE from being just a resident in the UK for that one year and experiencing their health system first hand to just fulfil article 24 and 25 of the Constitution, which in summary states that health care and social services is a right to all Guyanese and each citizen should do their part to fulfil that mandate,” Jones said.National developmentSpeaking on the awarding of the scholarships earlier on Friday, UK High Commissioner Greg Quinn spoke of the growth of the programme from the time he arrived to take up his post in 2015.“When I arrived here in 2015, we awarded two scholarships. And we’re now up to 17. So, the number of scholarships has gone up. But the competitiveness of those scholarships has also gone up, in terms of the number of applications but also the quality.”“To get a scholarship now, you really have to be at the top of that 300 odd people. It’s a difficult process. I know its nerve wrecking for people to be interviewed for it. I think the benefits are worth it. But along with the numbers, the quality of applications has really gone up.”He also laid out the expectations for those who complete their studies; that is to return and contribute to Guyana. While Quinn noted that the majority of recipients do come back, he expressed regret that there is a minority who chose personal job opportunities abroad over developing their countries.Asked whether they are considering tightening up to ensure everyone comes back, the High Commissioner noted that it is unrealistic when it comes to enforcement. According to Quinn, much reliance is placed on the interview process to screen out self-serving applicants.“There are some who haven’t come back or have come back and then left, which is unfortunate. The whole purpose of us spending this money is for people to come back to their countries of origins and develop them. We’re not paying for someone to get a Masters (Degree) to then get a high paying job in London or Washington.”This year’s beneficiaries are Mikhail Amsterdam, Kemptorne Daly, Zylenna Darson, Cilandell Glen, Makini Hackett, Gregory Harris, Nichole Haynes, Sonya Lord, Maria Paul, Gavinash Persaud, Yolander Persaud, Nicholas Peters, Sachin Ramsarran, Dave Saran, Deron Saul, Stacy Weaver, Monique Williams and Adoniyah Benjamin.The scholarship is a fully funded one, which the UK Government extends to several countries. Awardees spend a year in some of the UK’s most prestigious universities, completing a post graduate master’s programme. The total cost for the 17 scholarships is $128 million.