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Find new ways to keep our young men in school

Find new ways to keep our young men in school

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Message from His Excellency Sir Frederick N. Ballantyne, G.C.M.G., Governor-General of St. Vincent and the Grenadines

My fellow Vincentians, it is time once again for our nation to celebrate the anniversary of its independence. This, our 26th anniversary, is a time for celebration and reflection.

As a nation, let us celebrate the significant gains that we have made in the fields of art, culture, education and housing. No one should dispute that the most significant growth over the past year has been in the education sector and thanks must be given to all those who have contributed books, computers and scholarships to our students. {{more}} In addition, let us also say thanks to those persons who have given freely of their time, their intellect and their resources to ensure that our children are prepared and equipped to face the challenges ahead.

However, while we applaud ourselves for the progress we have made, we should not rest on our laurels – much remains to be done. We, as a people, must seek ways to address the weaknesses which still exist in the educational system. A concerted effort must be made to fight illiteracy in our nation, thus empowering our people to take full advantage of the opportunities which are available to them. Further, it is imperative that we find new and innovative ways to keep our young men in the school system and off the streets. We are all stakeholders in our nation’s future and this is a challenge we must face as a united people.

As we reflect on Independence, let us be mindful of the alarming growth in violent crimes committed in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. There is an intolerance which is so pervasive that resorting to violence seems to be the only way to settle minor disagreements. This problem affects each and every Vincentian and the prevalence of gun related crime in our society, if it remains unchecked, has the potential to rock the very foundation upon which St. Vincent and the Grenadines is built.

In Mark 12:31, Jesus Christ instructs, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” but, unfortunately, there are those among us who have strayed from this commandment. As a Christian people, we must wonder whose duty it is to remind us of it. Is it the duty of the church, the parents, the teachers or the politicians? It is the duty of each and every citizen of our beloved country, for it is only when we move forward together that we can grow in love and peace.

During the past year, St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been spared the ravages of natural disasters and we must give thanks to God for his continued blessings. At the same time, we must remember those nations around the world which have been devastated by hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, drought and terrorism. In the face of those tragedies, however, we saw the power of the human spirit shine in the way that people from all corners of the world rallied to help those affected.

The problems facing St. Vincent and the Grenadines may be numerous but they are not insurmountable. However, they can only be solved if we can find ways of working together in spite of our differences, be they perceived or real.

On behalf of my family, I take this opportunity to wish you all a happy and violence-free Independence Day. May God bless us all.

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