ONCE AGAIN TTUTA extends congratulations to all our national scholarship winners on their outstanding success in the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE).
Their success is worthy of celebration and is a reflection of the rewards that can be achieved through hard work, persistence, discipline and determination. Such success is the culmination of the combined efforts of both parents and teachers.
These results represent the pinnacle of success in our secondary education system and the scholarships awarded by the Government provide a solid platform for these students to enter the tertiary education realm and hopefully continue to excel.
As the nation celebrates the success of these outstanding achievers it is hoped the huge financial investment being made by the Government to underwrite their studies at the tertiary level will bear significant dividends in the years to come.
Credit must go to the hard working and dedicated teachers across the country who would have in no small measure guided their charges to the high achieving status. Hopefully, these students will understand that to whom much is given, much is expected.
To their country, they must understand, they owe a debt of gratitude and in time to come they will be able to make good on that debt by making a significant contribution to its overall welfare and development.
These scholarships represent a significant financial investment in the future of our country. By their very award, the State is indicating that it is placing its future in their hands and it is hoped that in time to come every single recipient would position themselves to give back to their beloved land in their various fields of endeavour.
Through their years at both primary and secondary school, they would have absorbed a sense of not just citizenship but pride in our Trinidad and Tobago. Too often in the past we have seen outstanding academic achievers benefit from scholarships and migrate to other lands without even expressions of gratitude.
Their success should also serve as an inspiration to younger ones, reminding that success at the highest level can be achieved with the right combination of sacrifice, hard work and determination.
Many recipients would be able to give narratives of overcoming odds and refusing to accept mediocrity. Their success should serve to provide hope to others, reminding them that while opportunities are provided to all by the State, excellence is up to them and well within their reach.
The Government must also be commended for its continued investment in this aspect of its human development initiative. However, the observation of the Minister of Education must not be dismissed.
The awardees reflect a very narrow band of education success. When this reality is placed in the context of national development there must be the recognition that this is an area worthy of reflection from a national education policy perspective.
The continued over-emphasis on success on the traditional academic areas ignores the importance of the arts and technical vocational areas. Students pursuing these areas will be expected to make just as significant contributions to national development in the future and their success and effort must be encouraged and celebrated in like manner.
A good and decent society cannot be built on an education system that continues to invalidate people who excel in non-traditional intelligences. Our national education plan must urgently address this imbalance, placing equal emphasis on all aspects of educational endeavour.
It is hoped that by this time next year the country will be celebrating a much broader spectrum of academic success. This narrow focus is a continuation of our antiquated notions of education and must be discontinued.
The University of the West Indies over the years has been leading the way in recognising the immense contributions of people from non-traditional academic areas and this trend must be emulated in all aspects of our education system.
Human development must be conceptualised from a broad spectrum of aptitudes. Standards and criterion for success must be defined and operationalised to reflect this. Failure to do this will continue to diminish our capacity to attain the kind of development we yearn and envisage.
The diversity of skills, talents and aptitudes innate to our young people must be encouraged and nurtured via a rich and diverse curriculum offering in both our primary and secondary school system. While we take nothing away from our national scholarship winners, we must reflect on our current notions of the nature and purpose of education going forward.