Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Christopher Sinckler, is excited at the prospects of the A Ganar Program, following receipt of a significant amount of funds from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Mr. Sinckler signed the administrative agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) today at Government Headquarters, Bay Street, St. Michael, for the grant funds that will see the expansion of A Ganar into three additional secondary schools.

Prior to signing, he said: ???I am excited at the prospects for the A Ganar Program now that there is additional funding outside of that allocated to the program under the Government of Barbados??? US $20 million loan from the IDB for the Skills for the Future Program, which is intended to support Barbados??? Human Resource Development Strategy, with an emphasis on improving the quality and relevance of secondary education, and the effectiveness of technical and vocational education and training.

???I am excited because the impact of the program in the current schools has been very positive and can only augur well for its continuation and expansion.???

The Finance Minister noted that A Ganar used the power of sports to help at risk youth develop market-driven job skills, become entrepreneurs and even investors, or return to the formal education system.

Pointing out that since its pilot phase commenced in 2013, A Ganar had grown significantly and was appreciated by all involved, Mr. Sinckler added: ???For us in the Ministry of Finance, we are particularly pleased that our partners from USAID could come on board because we have had a long and distinguished relationship with USAID down through the years.

“They have participated admirably in the development of Barbados and of course the Eastern Caribbean and elsewhere in the region and the world, generally. But for us they have been a partner and this is again demonstrative of their commitment to Barbados and we want to thank you for coming on board.???

He congratulated the 143 youth set to graduate tomorrow, saying it would be a ???wonderful celebration of a transition for so many special young people into a world that is competitive, challenging, but where opportunities abound for advancement???.

The IDB, USAID and the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation were also praised for building a symbiotic relationship that helped A Ganar produce results that also seemed promising for the future.

Country Representative of the IDB, Joel Branski, said the IDB was happy to partner with USAID, and praised the organisation for ???its continued partnership in this development initiative???.

He acknowledged the role played by the Education Ministry and Partners of the Americas in its successful implementation, and further praised the youth, who had enrolled, ???for using this opportunity as your chance to achieve your dreams and to contribute to this wonderful country as productive citizens???.

A Ganar Barbados is a part of the Skills for the Future Program, a $20 million investment loan financed by the IDB to the Government of Barbados. It was originally piloted in six secondary schools and two post-secondary institutions in 2013, but in May of this year, the Government Industrial School at Dodds was included in the program.

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