Students off to Mexico
March 4, 2005
Students off to Mexico

The forty-one students selected to study in universities across Mexico this year, have been urged not to let themselves, family or their country down.

With tears in his eyes, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves pleaded with the students to take full advantage of the opportunity to advance: “If you don’t do well, your family is in jeopardy. {{more}}You are not only representing yourself, but your family and your country. Don’t ever forget your mother and family that have nurtured you. You must achieve what you set out to achieve.”

He noted that while this country has few resources, it is blessed with natural beauty.

Dr. Gonsalves however said that the most valuable resource is the people and because of this, he will continue to put finances into educating Vincentians. He chided the former government, which invested and entrusted some $200 million dollars to Dr. Roller who took off with some $175 million of that money. He noted that is why the Ottley Hall Inquiry is taking place.

The Prime Minister affirmed that his government would not make that mistake. Instead, he said, they trust the youth of the country as an investment, hence the reason he will sign as guarantor for loans for students wishing to pursue their studies.

He confessed that sometimes his availability is taken for granted as a Prime Minister. He referred to a situation with one of the students, Garret Bynoe, a Spanish teacher at the St.Vincent Grammar School. The Prime Minister related that Bynoe had missed his interview to be selected for a Mexican scholarship because he was engaged at the Grammar School Sport Meet and a call was sent to the school for the teacher to be at the interview which he never received.

Dr.Gonsalves said he took a personal interest after Bynoe called and explained the situation to him. He said he had to ensure that Bynoe was given the opportunity to study, not only because he was a Spanish teacher who also had good grades, but also because he wasn’t given a fair chance. He said he would continue to make sure that Vincentians have a leader who is not distant, but is close to them and whom they can contact. He however expressed that sometimes this privilege is abused.

Dr. Gonsalves also announced that he will be in that Spanish speaking nation for the “Micro Finances and Development Forum” on the 25- 26 April. He will be addressing the gathering on micro financing as a tool for alleviating poverty.

He said he had received an invitation from Mexican President Vincente Fox to hold talks to strengthen closer bonds with this country on education and other matters.

Also speaking at the function, Minister of Foreign Affairs Louis Straker encouraged the students to make the best of their education. He noted that while they will interact and have a good time in Mexico, they must focus on their studies. “You are not there just to have a joy time and to go to parties; you are going to have to work hard.”

He later joked that, “I’m not athletic and I have to work at it, so too are some of you who are not so naturally bright and you have to work at it.”

The Foreign Minister advised the youngsters to adjust to the way of life of their new environment: “Respect the culture and be a good ambassador for this country. Everything will not be easy. You may have difficulty in your courses and other issues, but remember this is the generosity of Mexico and the sweat of the tax-payers.

Do not badmouth the country and do not badmouth your country, conduct yourself with discipline and honour.”

Mexican Ambassador to this country, Luz Elena Bueno welcomed the students and noted that the scholarships were part of her country building relations with St.Vincent & the Grenadines.

Also attending the function was Mexico’s Permanent Representative to the OAS George Chen, Minister of State in the Ministry of Education Clayton Burgin and Chief Personal Officer Bernard Morgan.

Eighteen of the 40 students will leave the state this Saturday, while the second batch will leave in May. The range of studies they will undertake includes Economics, Engineering, Social Work, Computer Science, Tourism Management and International Relations.

A total of 140 students will be pursuing studies in Mexico over the next five years through the Mexican scholarship programme at a cost of some $30 million dollars.