By Abena Rockcliffe
The National Park came alive, yesterday, with youthful exuberance as the Ministry of Education hosted is annual rally. The event was dubbed the biggest since the beginning of the initiative.
Thousands—inclusive of students, teachers and Ministry officials—participated in a march which was a part of the ‘education rally’.
The crowd, consisting of children of all ages, marched from Independence Park (Parade Ground) to the National Park.
They moved east along Middle Street, continued north along Camp Street; marched east along Lamaha Street marching in the eastern direction, then into Albert Street and north into the National Park.
President Donald Ramotar arrived about 25 minutes after the contingent reached the National Park. He was heartily welcomed with more than one round of applause by the over nine thousand that were awaiting his arrival for the progamme to begin.
As the President walked along the tarmac, waving to those in the stands, it was almost like a competition to see which stand could have hailed the president with the loudest shout and applause.
The programme, chaired by Assistant Chief Education Officer (secondary), Melcita Bovell, was kicked off with a dance to an upbeat instrumental. The colours worn by the dancers along with their energy, brought about a good start for the proceedings. Those dancers consisted of children from four different schools.
The older students came on just after with white and turquoise costumes, as they continued the entertainment with another dance.
The trend changed after the second dance and all stood for the pledge. If there is no other resolution from yesterday’s activity, at least it was proven that most—if not all—of the students there yesterday, knew the pledge. The Minister of Education smiled as she listened to the unity in which the pledge was recited.
The speeches started with Chief Education Officer, Olato Sam, who kept his short; but insisted that education must come first at all times.
Sam said that it was a proud day for education officials and by extension, the nation. He said that he is heartened to see the National Park enlivened with youthful enthusiasm.
Next to the podium was Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand.
The Minister told the students that when she looks upon them she sees that the best is yet to come.
She proclaimed that with academic acceleration, Guyana will quickly become the envy of the world.
She painted the possible picture of Guyana becoming a country that will see no citizen in want; a country where all are equal and service will be extended to every part of the country.
Minister Manickchand said that, that can only become a reality if all are “educated to the max.”
The Minister said that the “education business” is a very serious one, and one that cannot be successful with only one or two parties. It is like a relay race where every leg counts, she added.
Minister Manickchand noted that for Guyana to be the best it can be, there must be political will and support from the government. There must be a strong education ministry and passionate teachers with the will to do their jobs. She identified the last two runners in the relay race—strong students and good parents.
Manickchand said that if any leg is weak, “we will not get as far as we could go.”
She then sought to highlight what has already been covered. The Minister said that the President’s presence there signaled that “the government got your back.”
The Minister said, too, that her Ministry is committed to work its hardest to ensure each has the best opportunity; “so the Education Ministry’s leg is strong.”
She then addressed teachers and acknowledged those who are already more than teachers. “But, to those who are not doing your best, be the type of teacher you wanted to be when you entered college.”
Manickchand urged that those teachers point out what went wrong address it and enter into a resolve.
Of course the children promised to be a strong leg in the race and so the Minister moved on to address the parents.
She appealed, “We need you (parents) to be strong in this race be there for your children.
She said that there is a need for good parents, good aunts, good uncles…basically good role models, “or won’t get best. You don’t need to be a scientist; we just need you to pay attention. Be the persons to guide your children along a right path and once we have a good partnership, we will win the race.”
President Ramotar told the children that they now have the golden opportunity to realize the dreams of generations and generations of Guyanese who struggled to move the country to a better place.
He said that there is now the capacity to take things higher and it should be an honour as “young builders to be given the opportunity to take Guyana higher.
President Ramotar stressed the need for a good education. He said that the most important aspect of development is having quality citizens. He said that the world is changing at a rapid pace and as those changes continue, education will always remain important.
“And the process of education will continue throughout our lives.”
He told the students that education not only helps one to acquire a job; but equips one with the necessaries to be able to think critically, to be able to cope with the changing world that we live in.
“We cannot stand still and be contended with what we achieve; we must strive for greater heights.”
On the moral aspect of things, the President urged the gathering to always be ready to lend a helping hand.
He said that in addition to the course subjects, “pay attention to moral upbringing. Honesty is the best policy,”
This year’s education theme is “Transforming classrooms for 21st century, it was said yesterday that the theme underscores Ministry of Education’s commitment for the education system.”
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