Investing in education in Trinidad & Tobago

The energy sector represents over a third of Trinidad & Tobago’s economy. As the country’s largest producer of oil and gas, our activities make an important economic contribution to the nation - from employing local people and supporting the growth of local suppliers to providing energy to meet the country’s needs

In 2017 we expect to bring onstream the $2 billion Juniper gas field. At the peak of the Juniper project there were 750 workers on-site, 95% of whom were Trinidadian. And we support local industry - the Juniper platform is the sixth-locally produced platform.

In addition to producing energy, we are committed to creating value for the country through our social investments. We invest in four focus areas critical to national development - arts and culture, education, enterprise development and capacity building, and the environment. Most of our investments are focused on education and the role that education plays in meeting the country’s development aspirations.

In 2001, only 7% of young people in Trinidad & Tobago went on to attain university or tertiary-level education, compared to 30% in the developed world. In recognition that this gap was largely due to financial constraints, the government introduced a tuition assistance programme which has seen tertiary-level participation rates increase to more than 60%.

We have supported this government drive in several ways from building capacity through to the provision of academic scholarships and technical training.

Capacity building

In 2004, we contributed $2 million to help establish the new University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT). The university specializes in the delivery of industry-relevant undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and more than 7,000 nationals have graduated since its inception.

We have a long-standing partnership with the University of the West Indies (UWI) where we helped to establish, with others, an accredited petroleum geosciences undergraduate programme in which BP staff both lecture and mentor students. We have extended this support to the university’s engineering and economics programmes in recent years.

Providing bursaries and awards

Attending university or other tertiary education establishments often brings significant financial challenges for prospective students in Trinidad & Tobago. In response, we have funded several bursary schemes at UWI and UTT and worked with the US and UK embassies on access to their Fulbright and Chevening scholarship programmes for local young people.

Brighter Prospects

We have also developed a scholarship programme called ‘Brighter Prospects’ specifically targeting young people resident in the community in which BP has its major operations - Mayaro. The initiative provides financial assistance to students who gain access to tertiary education at approved institutions to cover expenses such as books, travelling and accommodation.

Launched in 2003, the programme has so far provided more than 500 scholarships to students in a myriad of disciplines and in 2014 we expanded the programme to include postgraduate scholarships.

Assessing the effectiveness of the programmes

To assess the progress of the recipients of the various scholarship schemes, we commissioned an independent study which followed student progress and considered the effectiveness of the initiative in areas such as obtaining employment, the reduction of poverty, and community or national development.

The study found the BP scholarships programme has had a major impact on the employment, occupational status and income of participants. Approximately 96% of recipients completed their respective course of studies and one third of students went on to pursue postgraduate or additional areas of study; 57% had obtained jobs within 12 months of graduation rising to more than 70% employed at the time of the study.

The study also found the programme had been instrumental in assisting families to increase their economic livelihoods while providing increased opportunities for individuals. Individuals were reported to be better able to contribute at both the family and community level - with almost half active in supporting local community activities. It also found that the Brighter Prospects scheme has benefited 30% of the 1,900 households in Mayaro.

This scholarship has allowed us to let go of financial burdens and focus on being the best that we can be. On a personal level, I lost my father in my final year and knowing that my education was supported by BP was priceless comfort in a very difficult time for my family and me. We all have stories that reflect how much this scholarship helped us along this journey.
Jarred Brewster, Bachelor of Medicine, University of the West Indies

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