Prime Minister Freundel Stuart (right), in conversation with (from left) Sir Frank Alleyne, Principal of the Christ Church Foundation School,??Robert Cumberbatch, and Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson after the speech day. (A. Miller/BGIS)

The Government of Barbados plans to spend over $500 million on education in the 2013-2014, financial year.

This was disclosed by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, as he addressed the Speech Day and Prize-Giving Ceremony at the Christ Church Foundation School, yesterday at the school.

In relation to the sums being devoted to education, Mr. Stuart admitted that it was "a massive investment", and invited students to justify such monies by giving their best performance.

"Performance does not relate only to the heights of academic excellence, but to the small things that are part of everyday life. Would this substantial national investment in students not be questioned if, for example, after exposure to seven years of secondary education, in your speech can be found relative pronouns like "which",

"who", and "whom" wandering around as if having no fixed place of abode; if you are still baffled by the distinction between "they", "there" and "their"; if your sentences behave as though they have had a black-out and cannot remember whence they came or where they are going; or if there is always lying in wait the letter "s" ready to attack from a dark hiding place any verb that passes by??? Alas, still too many of our certificated and degreed professionals have not got over these second and third form challenges," he bemoaned.

Reflecting on the words of St. Augustine of Hippo, in the 4th Century A.D., the Prime Minister pointed out that whilst due attention must be paid to the rules of grammar and pronunciation, there were other eternal rules which related to "the everlasting and to our salvation.?? To those rules we should also pay appropriate attention", he said.

However, in terms of gaining a sound and rounded education, Mr. Stuart added that a clear distinction should be made between qualifications and education. "Qualifications alone are not always evidence of a good education.?? Unfortunately, what is called education in some quarters is prized only or primarily for the results it can yield in market value.?? It is prized because it is thought to enable men and women to be successful in the material and very ordinary sense of that term," he underlined.

The Prime Minister noted that qualifications were a necessary feature as far as marketable skills were concerned, but, suggested that education had to be prized.?? "It has to be seen as enabling those who lay claim to it to realise their moral and intellectual capacities.?? It has to be seen as giving to those who say that they possess it, that level of self-respect that entitles them, as a matter of course, to the respect of others.?? It has to be seen as equipping those who have it with a surer hold on life, with sources of lasting strength and inward happiness," he stressed.

Speaking about the importance of maintaining high ideals, Mr. Stuart admonished both parents and teachers not to lower their standards in order to be popular with children, but to pursue high principles both in the things "we say and in the things we do".

"Parents will merit the respect of children, and teachers, that of students, only if they insistently, consistently and persistently pursue the highest possible standards in the fulfillment of their respective roles," he underlined.

He further added that a thin line separated sloppy speech and writing from sloppy dress, work, parenthood and moral and ethical habits and stressed that those responsible for nurturing the nation’s children had a solemn responsibility from which they could not escape.

During yesterday’s ceremony, Cheryse Greenidge received the Beryl Sealy Memorial Shield for obtaining the best Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) results, the Sherryl Lashley Memorial Shield for gaining 10 grade one passes at (CXC) and the Alumni Shield for Science.


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