Education Minister, Ronald Jones wants to see more of our young people striving for excellence and with the assistance of teachers and parents.

This was the key message delivered today as he addressed parents, teachers and others gathered at the St. Leonard???s Boys??? Secondary school for the 2012-2013 Speech Day and Prize-Giving ceremony.

Noting that it didn???t matter where a child ???came from??? or what he/she looked like, Minister Jones said: ???It has to do with the thirst and the hunger to succeed??? We need to give young people with their diversity the opportunity to grow at their own pace.???

Acknowledging that this was happening at St. Leonard???s Boys???, he urged the public to stop making children feel inferior. ???None of us are inferior??? Let them grow???

and give them the opportunity to find their space and to excel at their own particular and peculiar talents,??? Mr. Jones said, and he also asked that negatives be eliminated and instead emphasis placed on accentuating the positives and strengths of young people.

While commending the outstanding academic achievements as outlined by Principal, Joseph King, Minister Jones responded to recent comments regarding the debate on single-sex schools versus co-educational institutions which alluded to the latter contributing to violence.

The Education Minister maintained that ???the verdict is still out??? on co-education and stressed that both had their own strengths. ???What has to be the defining point is how good instruction is in schools; how good the teachers are in understanding the male/female perspective in a learning environment; how good the teachers are and how good the leadership of the school is to bring the best out of the boys or girls?????? he stressed.

Recounting his own school days, Mr. Jones said he, too, attended a mixed gender school where emphasis was placed on exhibiting strengths and studying. He recalled: ???We developed a fierce learning competitiveness given the context of the environment. But we also shared.??? Noting that back then the motto was, ???No one was going to be left behind???, he explained that cooperation and collaboration also helped.

???It is when we allow competitiveness to completely take over and don???t share our notes, especially in this day of technology??? people don???t share; they hoard everything to themselves,??? Minister Jones argued.

Parents and teachers were asked to heap more praise on their children and the Minister said that children looked for it and it was not difficult as it only took a few moments and an embrace.

As he further saluted St. Leonard???s Boys???, Minister Jones disclosed that ???a lot would happen soon??? at the school. Among these, he said would be the outfitting of it with photovoltaic panels ???to ensure the school has some green energy??? and that its sixth form, expected by next academic school year, would ???give many an opportunity to go on to be educated at least to the age of 18???.

With respect to the latter, Mr. Jones, referring to it as a continuing education process, said 16 was still a young age to exit the school system.

And, he assured parents that with the work of staff and the leadership the principal, the school would ???get going??? in disciplines which it had already identified. Some of these were listed as agricultural science, entrepreneurship and digital media that would see the development of Apps. And, the Education Minister stressed that the area of technical vocational education was ???an extremely strong area?????? which had aided this country???s development.

Meanwhile, Principal Joseph King, in giving his perspective on the sixth form suggested to the Ministry that they ???find due recognition??? for those who pursue and excel in technical and vocational studies in much the same manner as currently obtains with the academics at sixth form schools. This recommendation was welcomed by the Minister, who also bears responsibility for Science, Technology and Innovation and he urged that any ideas generated be sent to his Ministry.

Mr. King, in outlining the infrastructural improvements and outstanding achievements of his school, said: ???We met most of our targets. These achievements came in academia, culture, drama, sports and culinary arts.??? He added too that he was happy that the boys continued ???their positive contributions to society in words, deeds and action.???

It was noted that the school???s 100-boys choir ???continued to be in demand at concerts and Government functions??? and it received the Holders Hill Award and three scholarships were made available to the boys; two students gained scholarships from the alumni association; and the community involvement was significant with a highlight being the recent collection of over $3,000 that was donated to the Hope Foundation from the Boys??? dollar drive campaign.

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