Students, parents, teachers, principals, all members of the formal education community, welcome to the 2023-24 academic year.
In previous years, I have spoken about the unparalleled opportunity that a new school year presents for the establishment of goals, the renewal of commitment, and the realisation of dreams.
I attempted to inspire all stakeholders within our education system to work together with enthusiasm, honesty and a keen sense of responsibility. I presented the transformative ideals that the leadership of the Ministry of Education, Sports and Creative Industries envisions for education and the future of our twin-island state.
I firmly believe that my usual rhetoric is still relevant. But, you know those things. You know, only too well, the opportunities that lie before you, the goals you must set, the obstacles that must be overcome and the incontrovertible necessity for all of us to synchronize our efforts for the development of every student in Antigua and Barbuda.
What you may not know, or may not fully appreciate, is the rationale for the address. Why do we, in the Ministry of Education, Sports and Creative Industries consider a school re-opening address to be of critical importance?
This year, I will use the next few minutes to share with you three reasons why this address is an integral part of the commencement of the school year.
Firstly, we consider a school reopening address to be of paramount importance because we care about the quality of relationship that exists between the Ministry of Education and the people we serve.
This address is just one of the many ways in which we seek to nurture a harmonious relationship among all stakeholders. We are striving for an invincible connection through sincere communication and the articulation of clear expectations. We expect only your very best even as we strive to constantly take actions that are in the best interest of all.
Secondly, we want you to know how much you are valued. We want every boy, every girl, every parent or guardian, every teacher, every principal, in fact, every person who fulfils a function within our school compounds, including the bus drivers and conductors, to understand that you are special.
Without you, our education system would collapse, our national goals would be threatened and Antigua and Barbuda’s contribution to the realisation of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals would be in jeopardy.
You are important. Believe it, and act like you do because, even though you are important, if you are not diligent in fulfilling your responsibilities, you risk becoming irrelevant. We believe in you and your worth and we anticipate the many instances during the school year when you will prove us right.
Finally, we want you to be cognizant of our mindset at the beginning of the school year. When I started primary school as a young boy, many, many moons ago, I was presented with a slate. I know many of you have no idea what I am talking about, so you can look it up.
I can still remember the excitement I experienced when I was presented with a brand new, clean, unmarred slate. We view a new school year in the same way I viewed my new slate. We are starting with fresh hope and renewed purpose. There were times, during the 2022-23 academic year, when I felt like the field of education was an ideological battlefield.
We were grappling with issues of every kind. 2022-23 is behind us. We have new slates. I invite you to join us in viewing the new school year as an opportunity to learn from the past and look to the future with the determination to exercise our potential for growth.
We must make a concerted effort to grow, to change, to be transformative in our thrust to succeed.
So, as I close, I challenge all of us to embark on this 2023-24 academic year with the resolve that we will succeed.
Let us aim for improved, holistic development, better grades, sharper parenting, more engaging instruction, consistent attention to duty, and leadership that uplifts. I wish you all a brilliant school year. May God be with us all.