Stakeholders in education have been urged to appreciate the role and significant contribution teachers have made and continue to make to the socio-economic and political development of Barbados and the region.

This call came today from Chief Education Officer (CEO) Laurie King, as he addressed a church service at the People???s Cathedral, Bishop???s Court Hill to mark the start of Education Month 2013.

Encouraging teachers at all levels to rededicate themselves to the highest ideals of their profession so that Barbadians could continue to enjoy a standard of living equal to that in the developed world, Mr. King said large sums of money expended on education would go to naught if the teacher-student interaction was not effective.

Noting that Barbados could boast of having one of the best teaching fraternities to be found anywhere in the world, he said: ???Our teachers are knowledgeable, dedicated, committed, special and enthusiastic???. And, he saluted those who continued ???to persevere with patience, pedagogical skill and empathy in motivating all students in the pursuit of excellence???.

Students, themselves, were told that they were the country???s future and that national objectives could not be achieved if each of them did not strive for excellence and did so by sharing and spreading love for self and for those with whom they came into contact.

He said: ???I challenge you to rededicate and recommit to the values which your parents and grandparents held in high regard???values such as self-confidence, thoughtfulness, politeness, pride, respect for self and others.???

The CEO noted further that education was the ???undergirding principle of the ideology of the country for decades??? and the country???s emphasis on human capital ???had served it well and allowed for the growth and development of a population with a high rate of literacy???.

Acknowledging that successive governments had invested heavily in education ???in an attempt to provide equal opportunities for all citizens, and to unlock the potential of our people???, he added that education had always been associated with success and upward mobility and so a strong focus on it was deemed necessary.

However, officials of the Ministry, teachers and students gathered at the church were reminded that with the emergence of knowledge-based economies a number of challenges confronted educators and their institutions.

Stating that the relationship between quality education and relevant education was now all the more important, the senior Ministry official said: ???Education must focus on the acquisition of knowledge and skills including the social skills while responding to national needs and priorities and the emerging needs of the globalised world. Our students must now have a regional and international frame of reference if they are to become productive citizens and they must be creative and think critically.

???They must be able to solve problems and communicate effectively. Our students must be knowledgeable and informed. They must be competent and have leadership skills. Students should be able to work in teams and be technologically literate. They must be socially and culturally responsive. Students should be ethical, innovative and have a passion for entrepreneurial activity; [and] they must be life-long learners who are self-motivated.???

The Chief Education Officer concluded that to adequately prepare persons to function in the modern society; educate creative minds and create productive citizens, all entities, public, private, non-governmental organisations as well as interest groups had a role to play in the process.

The Month is being commemorated under the theme: Educating Creative Minds: Creating Productive Citizens.

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