September 2, 2005
On rewarding excellence, options

This week saw the Prime Minister rewarding students of the St.Vincent Community College who had been successful at the A’Level examinations with gifts of $500 each.

We applaud the gesture of rewarding the students but respectfully disagree on the method of reward. We are of the view that the students would have been just as well rewarded with plaques for and certificates of excellence.{{more}}

It is the duty of students to study and to pass their examinations. The motivation should come from just knowing that you have worked hard and had been successful in your exams and not money.

The government has to be careful that this kind gesture is not interpreted as a pre-election gimmick. After all, this administration has already demonstrated a marked commitment to the youth and education. There have been commendable strides in seeking increased university places for many students who yesteryear may have had to bear considerable financial burden to attain these places. Indeed, the enrollment of Vincentian students at universities around the region, including our Spanish-speaking neighbours of Cuba and Mexico has increased. Students now find places in Taiwan even as they continue to travel abroad to the US and to Europe to pursue tertiary studies. That is the reward our students should be getting from the state, university scholarships and not monetary awards at this level.

We however think that the special monetary awards could have been given to the most outstanding performers at both levels of exams written.

Nevertheless SEARCHLIGHT today commends all the students who have been successful at both levels, the CSEC and the A’Level. We expect even greater things from them and advise that in seeking careers they begin to think outside the box. It is frightening just how many students are enrolling in law courses at the Community College.

Our students need not limit themselves to a few usual areas of study that they may consider trendy or respectable today. We note that of seven students interviewed by our reporters, who excelled at CSEC, four had chosen medicine. This may have been pure coincidence, but we have noted over the years, a trend of persons choosing careers, which fall within a rather narrow traditional band.

Our developing nation is going to need professionals in a much wider range of disciplines that are normally pursued. The time to consider new options is now.