“Study hard and be honest!” That was the advice given to the standard five students of Holy Faith Preparatory (St Bernadette’s), in St Ann's by
Member of Parliament for Port of Spain North/St Ann's West and Energy Minister Stuart Young when he visited the school on March 17.
The students welcomed the minister with a warm rendition of their school song, which was followed by his interactive speech, a question-and-answer segment, photo ops and signing autographs.
He advised the students to be calm as the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exam approaches. The exam is scheduled for March 29.
“In life you should never panic. Everything will be okay,” Young said.
He asked students about their secondary-school choices and told them he was a past pupil of Holy Faith Prep (St Monica’s). He reminisced about playing football against St Bernadette’s.
When students got to ask him questions, 12-year-old Noah Andrew Edwards took the opportunity to ask, “What is your definition of good governance?”
Young explained, “For good governance to work, the right decisions must be made with the proper procedure at all levels. There are no shortcuts and no favours.”
Eleven-year-old Charlotte Newton-Forrest then asked, “You have been a practising attorney since 1998. I would like to become an MP. Which career path should I take?"
Young replied, “According to our Constitution there are no qualifications to become an MP.
"You must be over 18 years of age, of sound mind and be a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago. Additionally, the individual should not have dual citizenship.
"Electing people from different backgrounds helps to create more inclusivity with regard to law-making.”
He said studying law and focusing on reading subjects and business helps. He encouraged students to study hard if they want to venture into the world of politics.
“Study hard, be prepared to work hard and be honest. There will be many temptations in life to make wrong decisions.”
The next question came from 11-year-old Cristen Lastique, about the advantages and disadvantages of being a minister.
“One of the advantages of being a minister is that I get to serve. In the last seven years I have been allowed into spaces that very few people are fortunate to enter. I have been to China, the White House, Buckingham Palace, seen the Great Wall of China and more. I have had the opportunity to meet many unique individuals.
"The disadvantage is that I lose my private life,” Young replied.
Myka Leanza, 11, wanted to know, “Is the government looking into solar-powered energy as an alternative to help the people of TT with their electricity bills?”
Young said at the start of April 2023, TT will have the largest solar-plant project in the Caribbean.
"Gas prices will not be affected initially. However, our prices are amongst the lowest in the world.”
Referring to a Newsday article by Marshelle Haseley dated March 3, titled Central Bank, Amcham: Local economy saved by energy sector, TT must diversify, Alexi Waithe questioned the minister about inflation, in light of the increase in oil and gas prices sparing the local economy from the negative effects of the global economic downturn. “Do you foresee any adjustments to the current gas prices?”
Young replied, “International gas prices are volatile. Gas prices depend on geopolitics and major decisions made in the world.”
Asked his thoughts on the inauguration of TT's seventh President Christine Kangaloo, Young said he has known Kangaloo for over 20 years.
“She is an amazing person, and she will make a great president.”
Shifting away from politics, Silvero Noah De Silva asked the minister, “You attained a black belt in Shotokan karate – do you have any tips for a karate kid like me?”
Young advised him, “Stay focused. Karate teaches you discipline and discipline is very useful in life.”
The final question came from 11-year-old Amy-Leigh Valentine, who asked Young about his ministerial portfolio.
“If you are given the opportunity to move to another ministry, which ministry would you choose and why?”
He replied, “When I first started in 2015, the prime minister chose me. He has the authority to make those changes. In the many places I’ve travelled to, I am known as the Minister of Everything. I am willing to serve anywhere I am placed, because I am in this for children like you. I believe in TT. If you are in the capacity to serve, serve anywhere.
"I am okay as Minister of Energy. In this capacity I represent TT. I have met sophisticated people from around the world, and as a minister I am working for TT to have a future.”
After the vote of thanks, the students, along with the staff of St Bernadette’s, got to take photos with Young, who also autographed students’ items and wrote individual messages of inspiration to each of them.