BOTH Amrita Singh, 19, and Sadhana Balladin, 19, never expected to win the President’s Medal. But that was not because of any lack of dedication or hard work.
“I was not a stellar top student right off. It took a lot of time and effort to work myself up to such a position,” Singh said on Thursday after the announcement was made. Balladin was similarly taken aback. “I was honestly shocked,” she said. The girls embody the idea of personal excellence as well as perseverance.
“Sometimes you feel like you’re not doing your best,” Singh advised. “Sometimes it’s hard and you want to give up. But don’t because you are capable of great things and you have to strive for it.”
We congratulate both students as well as their families and teachers. We also hail the accomplishment of the Lakshmi Girls Hindu College (LGHC) for its stellar and unique achievement of having a fourth consecutive President’s Medal recipient in the person of Singh. Lakshmi Girls is charting a course of excellence that all of TT is rightly proud of.
Kudos are also in order for Balladin’s alma mater St Joseph’s Convent, San Fernando, as well as St Joseph’s Convent, Port-of-Spain, which received the most scholarships for 2018. These schools are setting a great example and it is hoped their formula for success is replicated throughout the education system.
At the same time, it is vital that we acknowledge that education is not about certificates and rankings but rather about enabling the next generation to think independently and apply itself to solving the problems of the day.
In this regard, we agree with the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee to do an in-depth analysis of the number of scholarships awarded in areas of Mathematics and Natural Sciences.
Traditionally, Trinidad and Tobago has had a very narrow-minded conception of education and knowledge. For a long time, the sciences and mathematics have been viewed as the most rigorous subjects, areas that only the best and brightest pursue. A more holistic idea of education is only now taking hold. Students should be free to do whatever subjects they wish.
After all, it is their future at stake. It needs to be ascertained whether students gravitate to the sciences and mathematics because of a lingering belief that these are the only real subjects or whether these are subjects that many students naturally gravitate towards.
No matter what subject a student does, hard is required. How can we get our brightest students to apply their talents to areas of national development? The Government has done well to maintain the overall level of scholarships, but it remains to be seen whether the program can be tailored to those most in need of financial support. After all, everyone should have the same chance to become stellar.