Our Readers' Opinions
September 2, 2014

Back to school message

Tue Sep 2, 2014

From Minister of Education Girlyn Miguel

September 2014

It is with great enthusiasm that I welcome back to school our students, teachers, principals and support staff. A very special and warm welcome is extended to our new kindergarten students.{{more}}

While some of you may be a bit sad that the long summer vacation is over, I hope all of you are excited about the start of a new school year.

As we begin this new term, let us celebrate and reflect on the achievement of our students. The 2013/2014 academic year was quite rewarding for many. Both our national and regional examinations have shown general improvements at all levels, with some students recording outstanding quality passes. I thank and congratulate the heads of schools and our teachers for their work with the students and predict with hope that our overall pass rate at each level will continue to rise.

It must be noted that hundreds of our young children will be experiencing the formal classroom (or big schools as they call it) for the first time. For many of them this is a time of great anxiety. I therefore urge our teachers, parents and older students to do everything possible to minimize anxiety by helping them to feel safe and secure, and as they look to you for guidance, be sensitive and alert to their needs.

Students, teachers, parents, support staff, each one of you plays an important role in the education process.

I am aware that today’s teachers are expected to help the most diverse student population and those hardworking teachers are to be commended. Teachers I urge you to appreciate and understand that you have a responsibility to effectively engage and inspire each student in your class. You are required to demonstrate a tremendous measure of care and warmth, thereby creating an environment where an expectation of high achievement exists.

Teachers, given the fact that our secondary school students are now proud holders of ACER laptops and you teachers have been trained massively in the integration of ICT into the curricula, it is imperative that the instruction and assessment of students provide opportunities for appreciative enquiry, investigation, critical thinking, analysis and the production of creative works and projects.

Students, you are central to the process as well and you do have roles and responsibilities, I urge you to go to class prepared to be engaged. As learners you have a responsibility to learn, to learn how to learn, to try to discover how best you learn and to learn to work collaboratively and harmoniously with others.

As you grow and develop, use the appropriate devices such as laptops, to pursue technological competencies, continue to explore the internet as a useful source of information for homework, school research and projects. Use it safely and effectively to support your learning.

Let me highlight that each of you is talented, so help your teachers to discover your true potential. Know too that school is one of the best places for you to learn important habits that ensure a lifetime of physical, emotional and social well-being, so pay attention to things like your eating habits, participate in sports and exercise, the performing arts and try to develop the fine graces such as good manners, courtesy, cleanliness. Please continue to strive for all round excellence.

Parents, your role of support to our children is invaluable. You continue to be critical in molding and shaping their lives. Part of your responsibility is to be positive role models and good mentors for them. Discipline, teaching and training are very much part of your duty as mentors and custodians. I encourage both mother and father to show interest in your child’s school activities, monitor their homework assignment, encourage good study habits and make reading with and to your child a priority.

As we move forward, I implore all stakeholders, all communities, to invest time and vigilance in ensuring that our schools remain free from vandalism and gang cultures; that the environment, furniture, textbooks and equipment are taken care of, that the school ethos reflects our nation’s core values; that student achievement is celebrated, that the professionalism of principals and staff is exemplary and that each of us can share in the pride and joy of the kind of education our system represents.

May the Lord be with all of you throughout this term and may He continue to bless us as a nation.