Minister of Health, Donville Inniss

"Detailed public analysis of the Eleven Plus [Common Entrance Examination] each year does little to help the situation."

This view was expressed today by Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, as he addressed the graduation ceremony of the St. Stephen’s Primary School, at the Western Light Church of the Nazarene, Oxnard’s, St. James.

He said, "In a few years, no one will be concerned about which primary school you went to, just like in the next eight years, when some of you go on to College and University, no one?? [will] bother about which secondary schools you went to.?? What will take you in life is that solid foundation that has been laid."

Mr. Inniss said: "Do not let anyone make you believe your success in life is dependent upon the Common Entrance Exam. This is now only the beginning. You are leaving the sheltered walls of St. Stephen’s and will now be embarking on a challenging, exciting set of new experiences. "

Graduands were asked not to settle for mediocrity but the best, while pursuing their dreams and it was explained that not every one of them would be an academic, in the traditional sense. "Each society needs a variety of skills to keep it together and to help it develop. In other words, not everyone will be an Albert Einstein. We still need in our society, the plumbers, the carpenters, the tradesmen," observed Mr. Inniss.

They were told to be tolerant of each other, respect other people’s point of view, think well about consequences before acting and urged not to discriminate based on race, class, colour, or creed, or any other factor. Moreover, the Minister called on them to develop good study habits and skills for time management, to avoid any addiction to computer games and other gadgets and continue to respect their teachers.

The Health Minister also addressed the subject of illegal drug use and students were told that while peer pressure would be greater, they needed to strive to be positive leaders and not followers.

Minister Inniss said: "Stay away from drugs, in particular. In my Ministry we are spending an enormous amount of tax-payer’s dollars treating those who present themselves with illnesses related to drug and substance abuse in Barbados. Believe you me, just say no… it can cause untold damage to you."

While acknowledging that Government would continue to play its part in addressing the culture of aggression, rudeness and plain foolishness that had taken over the society, Minister Inniss said: "But much more is achieved when each one of you play your part and conduct yourself in a manner befitting that of a proud Barbadian, one who is willing to live the impossible dream."

The theme of the graduation was "Live the Impossible Dream" and it saw Tristan Forde and Eshe Blackett emerging as top male and female students respectively.

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