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Thursday 20 June 2019
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Letters to the Editor

Kalicharan – the epitome of the all-round student

THE EDITOR: I refer to Dr Noel Kalicharan’s letter in which he praised Naparima College for its role in the all-round development of its students. But I wonder how many people would know that Noel himself was the epitome of the all-round student.

I entered Naps in 1966. Two years later, Kalicharan wrote O’Levels, tying for first place in TT. This was big news at the school. We also heard talk that in the Form Five end-of-term exams, in a class of bright boys, he beat the second-placed student by over 200 marks in eight subjects.

In 1970, at A’Level, he won a national scholarship in the mathematics grouping (pure maths, applied maths, physics). (In those days, only two scholarships were offered in each of five subject groupings.) According to his CV, which can be found online, he also won a UWI open scholarship that year.

But at school, what really impressed me was his sporting achievements. I was a table tennis fan and inter-school tournaments were very popular. For home games, the gymnasium was packed with spectators. Kalicharan was the captain of both the junior and senior teams – I have yet to see him lose a game.

In cricket, he was the captain of the junior team and also played on the senior team. My copy of the 1969 Olympian – the school magazine – tells me he was also a member of the Junior Jaycees and the scout troop. In 1969-70, it was a no-contest for best all-round student.

His star did not fade on leaving Naps. In the 1980s (pre-internet days), I was privy to a copy of the application he submitted as part of a team tendering for a project. I learnt that while at UWI in Jamaica, he played cricket and table tennis for the university. This did not prevent him from scoring a perfect 100 per cent in all four of his first-year mathematics (special) courses. When asked in the interview if that was because the exams were easy, he just mentioned that the second-placed student scored 58 per cent.

It’s worth mentioning that he has twice won first prize in the Prime Minister’s Awards for Invention and Innovation. He has also developed DigitalMath – a novel way of doing non-trivial arithmetic calculations with your fingers. He has been named a TT Icon in Science and Technology (2010) and, in 2012, received an Excellence in Education award from the Ministry of Education for outstanding contribution to education over the last 50 years.

In-between all this he has found time to write about 20 books on computer science with prestigious publishers like Cambridge, Springer/Apress and Amazon/CreateSpace. There’s more but I think you get the idea of his all-round ability, the foundation of which, he acknowledges, was built at Naparima College.

In his letter, Kalicharan expresses pride in his alma mater. I daresay his alma mater is proud of him.

RM BAKSH, Ste Madeleine

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