Hundreds of students across the country will be returned to the classroom today Monday, after off and on school closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic All students will resume in-person classes after more than two years of distance learning.
Director of Education Clare Browne said as far as his ministry of concerned, all is set and in place for the new school year.
He talked about repairs and other infrastructure developments that were undertaken during the summer holidays.
“Parents, principals, students, and teachers, we are at the dawn of the 2022-23 academic year. For me, it is both an exciting and sobering time. I am excited by the thought that we are starting the year face to face and, though we cannot abandon all measures that keep us safe, we are less restricted than we were at the beginning of the 2021-22 school year. I am excited by the thought that, in the months ahead, many bold steps will be taken in and out of classrooms which demonstrate that, in education, we are committed to the holistic development of all students,” Browne said in a statement today Monday.
Browne said he is, however, sobered by the thought that from one sunset to another, “we could be assailed by challenges which dim the prospects of success for all students. Our experiences with Covid-19 have taught us that, without warning, our circumstances can change dramatically, threatening our education system and jeopardizing the future of our nation,”
He said the ministry of education and all involved are stronger than they have ever been, students, parents, and teachers alike. “We are more prepared, more passionate, and infinitely more determined that nothing will crush our will to cultivate the future of this great nation,” he said,
The beginning of a school year according to the director of education is a unique opportunity to make commitments to enhance the educational experience for all stakeholders.
“So, as I speak to you today, I implore you to join me in a resolve to eliminate unpreparedness, selfish actions, irresponsible decisions, negligent behavior, low expectations for students, violence to address conflicts, theft of educational materials, vandalism of school property, disrespect for authority and laziness in all its forms,” he said.
Browne said in his very detailed statement that he believes the “things” which plagued the education system in the past cannot persist in this school year.
“Each of us must decide that we must do better than we ever did before because our prosperity depends upon it,” he said.
He also used the opportunity to implore students to do their part to brighten their prospects. Choose to make your good, better, and your better best. Never rest until you achieve your noble dreams.
“Parents and Guardians, I challenge you to be solidly committed to your children’s education and their psycho-social development. Be the greatest influencer in your child’s academic performance and overall well-being. Together, we can command change and maintain high standards for your children” he said
Teachers were also admonished in the statement, with Browne using the opportunity to thank them for what he said were their efforts at “lavishly spreading hope and inspiration in lesson after lesson. Those of you who are yet to join the ranks of treasured teachers, I encourage you to reflect and reform your practices. You can change the world one plan at a time”.
As for Principals, those who Browne called the leadership within the Ministry of Education and Sports, he said these men and women are cognizant that they have what could be a rather ambiguous role in aligning policies with practice.
“We applaud your remarkable efforts. Continue to create school environments where everyone flourishes and the welfare of the children in your charge surpasses every other concern. Be assured that those of us who have the privilege of leading in education are aware that our chief responsibility is to the future of this nation. We will continue to maintain strict adherence to those principles which illuminate our vision and safeguard our mission,” he said.
Browne said education is dynamic and is also about opening and extending the vistas of discovery.
“It is about securing the future by sparking the imaginations of our youth now, providing them with exceptional opportunities to maximize their potential. For four weeks of the summer vacation, over two hundred boys and girls in this nation capitalized on an opportunity provided by the Ministry of Education and Sports and its partners to glimpse the possibilities of a world powered by Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics,” he added
Adding, “I daresay that for many years we have been committed to opening avenues for growth, not just through STEM education but, recognizing the special advantages that the Arts create, we have been committed to ensuring that the development of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics drove our policies and programs”.
For the sector to remain relevant and successful Browne said a collaborative effort is needed.
“Each of us has a role in making sure that the future we envision is more than just a mighty dream. My question, as we begin this school year is this: Are you willing to commit your mind, your heart, and your hands to ensure that the future of Antigua and Barbuda is rising significantly with STEAM? I wish to say to all of us in education, every school girl, every schoolboy, each parent, guardian, teacher, principal, education official, and corporate sponsor, let us agree that we will join in making the 2022-23 academic year one in which we build forward better. Welcome to the new school year,” he said.