Minister of Education – Back to School Message
January 8, 2013

Minister of Education – Back to School Message

Tue Jan 08, 2013

I bring you greetings from the Ministry of Education as the New Year begins and wish that peace, prosperity and success will accompany each student, teacher and their families throughout the year and beyond.

An inspirational quote, which I hope you will always remember and allow to guide you, reads thus: “It is your road and yours alone, others may walk with you, but no-one can walk it for you.”{{more}} This is meant to tell you that your future, success and your destiny depend largely on your own individual efforts, and, to a lesser extent, on the type of support which you receive from your family, friends and teachers.

At this time of economic hardship, as a nation, we have to work together to ensure that our country prospers and is able to withstand the shocks being experienced elsewhere. Each person, young or old, has a role to play in making our country resilient and in ensuring its survival.

Principals, your role as administrators and instructional leaders is important, in ensuring that our schools are effective schools and safe spaces, in which teachers and students conduct the important business of teaching and learning.

Teachers, your role as instructors and guides, is of equal importance in ensuring that our students are equipped with the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed for their personal, cognitive and psychosocial development, if they are to become stable, well-adjusted individuals, who can contribute to the economic survival and productivity of our small island state.

Parents, guardians and caregivers, your roles are fundamental in the lives of our nation’s youth. It is within the bosom of the family which you create, that the future success or failure – the destiny of the youth – is determined. This is determined by the quality of nurturing and socialization which you provide during the formative years. It is your responsibility to show the youth under your care, how to walk, and to walk with them through their formative years, through their schooling, and even into adulthood; for, as parents and guardians, you are never allowed the privilege of resigning, unless you wish to see your children fail. Your role is also to support the schools, so that there is a close and supportive link between the home and the school, that your children’s education does not become the sole responsibility of the school, but remains a collaborative effort between these two institutions in your children’s lives.

Over the past eleven years, the Ministry of Education has embarked on a number of initiatives, chief among them is the provision of spaces in the secondary school system for each child of secondary school age; this was done under the umbrella of Universal Access to Secondary Education. Naturally, this initiative cannot bear the fruit which it is intended to bear, unless all of the parties to which I referred above, fully recognize and embrace their respective roles and responsibilities, and dispatch these with the requisite diligence, dedication and compassion.

Every child can succeed and must be given the opportunities to do so by those charged with the responsibility of ensuring our children’s success. During the course of the past eleven years, teachers and school leaders were able to benefit from opportunities for further education, to ensure that they possessed the training and skills needed to address students’ learning and psychosocial needs. Five additional secondary schools were established, and more places were created at the primary level. Additionally, nine government operated Early Childhood Education centres came into being in 2009, in order to increase equality of access to education at this level to an underserved sector of our population. Along with these initiatives came the establishment of units within the Ministry of Education with the mandate to oversee quality in the provision of Technical and Vocational Education and Training, as well as post-secondary education.

The past year, however, has not been without its tears and trials. We are aware of the fact that many of our students are experiencing difficulties and appear not to have the coping skills needed to surmount these. As a result of this, plans have been set in motion to strengthen the teaching of Health and Family Life Education in the schools, and to extend counselling services. The support of parents is critical to the success of this venture. We all need to work together to ensure that our students are provided with the care, support and comfort which they need, as they move from one stage of development to another. Educating our students is a collaborative effort.

In closing, I express gratitude for support and cooperation from my colleagues, the staff of the Ministry of Education, all principals, teachers and support staff in our schools and centres of learning. It would be remiss of me if I were to neglect to thank the private individuals, governments, organisations and corporate entities which have supported, and, will no doubt, continue to support our efforts in education. To all I say thank you for your generosity and cooperation. Know that your kindness will touch many lives and afford many the opportunity to thrive and succeed in life.

Parents, guardians, caregivers, teachers, together, let us walk with our children as we seek to provide them with the tools to survive and be successful in this world.

May the peace of our Lord be with us all throughout the New Year and beyond.