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Let’s not give up on our youngsters



Congratulations are in order for the 1065 students who survived the pressure cooker of the Common Entrance examination and were able to achieve the standard prescribed by the Ministry of Education. These students will now embark on another stage of their lifelong educational journey, and most of them are expected to, in the next five years, face a second major examination hurdle.{{more}} This does not mean that the 49 per cent of the 2081 students who sat the examination, without attaining the required pass mark level, will be left behind, for the government’s policy provides secondary school places for all. Indeed, there have been many noted examples of students who fell short of the common entrance pass mark, but through hard work and application, excelled later in life.

The Common Entrance exam, with all the attention it attracts in our society, has become much more than an academic challenge for our youngsters. It is now a virtual competitive cauldron, in which not just students, but parents, teachers and schools vie for supremacy. It is therefore not just academic ability, but overcoming societal pressures which counts in the end. There are pluses and minuses in this equation, but we should avoid making final judgements on our young ones if they do not always live up to the lofty aspirations we have for them.

Over the years, much has been said, and in fact, continues to be said about male academic under-achievement. It is thus always heartening to note successes for young males, as is the case with this year’s top performer, Alron Harry of the Kingstown Preparatory School. We extend special congratulations to him and hope that his success would serve as an inspiration to other young males to not just aim at the pinnacle, but resolutely set out to get there.

Alron’s achievement once more reminds us that though there are major challenges ahead, all is not lost where our boys are concerned. Another such reminder was also given during the past week by the RBC / RBTT Young Leaders of the St. Vincent Grammar School, who copped the top prize for outstanding work on their water project. Clearly, our young males are not all headed for doom and destruction, and if we can recognize this, acknowledge their shortcomings and assist them to surmount the hurdles in their path, rather than take the negative views so prevalent in our society, much more can be achieved.

Generally, this applies to our attitudes to young people as a whole. We sometimes behave as though they are not products of the selfish, permissive, uncaring society that we adults have created. The obstacles they face are not of their own creation. Are we giving them, on the whole, the requisite support, environment, and undivided attention, not just at an individual family level, but at the community level, to help them to cope with the stresses of a globalised world? Or, as with the Common Entrance, do we use the achievements of our children as a means of self-aggrandisement, condemning those who do not live up to our expectations? Let’s not give up on any of our children. Their futures, and ours, depend on it.