Education Minister Dr. Gayle Rigobert has said that despite the COVID-19 challenges and disturbances—young people play a vital role as ‘future developers’ of the country.
Speaking at the Virtual Graduation of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College [SALCC], Class of 2020, on Sunday, the minister acknowledged the resolve demonstrated by the young students to overcome the many challenges posed by the coronavirus to become the latest batch of SALCC graduands.
Dr. Rigobert said that in an effort to efficiently implement the ICT program the students stuck in “to bridge the technology divide” and the more component ones reached out to their less resourceful class mates.
“You are that crop of students, who during months of lockdown had the time to rediscover who you are and what you are made of,” declared the minister.
She added : “In fact, it is that experience above all, that in time, way beyond the certificate that you receive today that will prove your technical competency, it will be that experience of the lockdown and remaining productive and focused, that will prove that you are made of something special.”
Dr. Rigobert told the students that the COVID-19 experience, which they have encountered will prepare them for a more sustainable future and equip them with ‘marketable skills’ that may astonish prospective employers.
The minister noted that while the broader definition of education is focused on “the technical competency of the students”, however “let us not forget our responsibility also, to shaping other aspects of your development; team building, mediation, rising to and overcoming challenges, innovation, creativity.”
Also recognizing the input of the educators in nurturing the students, she continued, “Your teachers, your lecturers have done so beautifully as well, because many of them had to employ the new technologies so as to allow for them to impart the knowledge and they had to employ some very creative ways for so doing.”
Dr.Rigobert said the challenges that students had to undertake in puling through this ‘covid-19 experience’ will provide a ‘beacon of hope’ for future scholars.
“When we talk about creating pathways to new careers and that your crop and the crop after you will walk these hallowed halls, you would have left in your wake a foundation that is unshakeable,” she asserted.
The minster added , “You would have left in your wake the hallmark of an experience that will forever shape what every student coming in after you, will experience and will enjoy.”
The students’ representative body was amongst many groups in civil society that called on government authorities ‘to heed their concerns’ when making decisions to combat the coronavirus.
The minister remarked that “there is great merit in constructive criticism and feedback. You proved that as young citizens, mindful of your own responsibility for your progress, that your voice was important.”
Dr.Rigobert said they acknowledged the students’ pleas, “for the many times you called us out, the many times you highlighted the gaps and the shortcomings… we were able to resolve many of those and we continue to attend to the ones that will be dealt with in the long term.”
She added, “You proved to be responsible citizens and you did that with grace and with poise, with decorum, respect and a great sense of responsibility for your wellbeing and that of your class mates.”
Noting that the road ahead due to Covid-19 “is largely unpredictable” , the minister declared : “But I want to reassure you that your experience here, especially the experience of the last ten months in particular, these experiences have more than prepared you.
“You are adequately equipped to master any challenges thrown at you, you are well outfitted to respond to and to resolve the many issues that crop up in one’s life.”