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There is hope in the valley and all of SVG

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Editor: In the midst of an enthusiastic and too often divisive election campaign, there are many things to celebrate during our National Independence anniversary. The many achievements of our Government and people are well documented and known via the various media sources. These achievements are more remarkable, considering the difficult economic environment in which we find ourselves, mainly due to external factors over which we have little or no control.{{more}}

I wish, however, to congratulate a group of young progressive community members, and the community which they serve. I speak of the “HOPE Foundation”, an organization established by a group of young people living in the Diaspora, and also locally. They used their multiple talents, including Information Technology (I.T.), to communicate among themselves and to identify ways of giving back of their talents to their beloved community of the Vermont Valley.

This group organized a Launch and Awards Ceremony at the Pembroke Golden Years Activity Centre on the 22nd October, 2010. It was among the best such ceremonies of the many that I have attended. Apart from an understandably late start, they more than compensated for this imperfection by the quality of the program delivered.

They were able to put together an impressive cultural package, including Arabesque Dancers, but the crème de la crème was a world class instrumental duet led by arguably St. Vincent’s most acclaimed Saxophonist around today, another young man and product of the Education Revolution, Kemwell Spence.

Second chances

The most touching aspect of the program, however, was the range of persons selected as awardees. These young people decided to highlight the performances of other young people, some of whom could have otherwise fallen through the cracks. The awardees were: Mikahailla Mathias, Narrissa Simon, Justin Stapleton, Alex Burnette, Amran Robinson, Daree Myers.

Several of them “failed” the Common Entrance Examinations, and were it not for the very progressive Government Policy by the ULP Administration, when seven (7) years ago, we implemented the Universal Secondary Education, that is simply put, providing a placement for all children of secondary school age. It is important to note two (2) things: Firstly, up to when this policy was implemented, only 39% of these children had the opportunity to go to a secondary school! For those not making it, invariably they concluded their formal education and may have ended up with a life of despair. Secondly, when we implemented this policy, the NDP leadership criticized it, among other things saying that we were diluting the quality of secondary education. Well, history has absolved the ULP’s policy, as has been demonstrated by the remarkable successes of many students who have done very well in their studies.

Did their best

Excellence was defined by the group’s president Mr. Edwards as “doing the best one can with the opportunity afforded them”. He emphasized that one does not have to be the best in what they do to be excellent, as long as they did their best.

The group donated athletic gear to the Buccament Bay Secondary and the Thomas Saunders Secondary schools, two new secondary schools that were built by the ULP Administration as part of the implementation of the Education Revolution; both had students writing CXC for the first time and had exceptional results, in that they achieved 67 and 73% passes, respectively.

Additionally, Thomas Saunders Secondary won the Secondary Schools athletics meet and has earned a spot to attend the “Internationally acclaimed PENN Relays in Pennsylvania, USA”.

The above are all examples of success, visionary governance by the ULP for their education policies, confidence, hard-work and determination on the part of the awardees, and maturity, dedication and good will on behalf of the members of the HOPE Foundation.

I congratulate all of the above. Job well done! There is Hope not just in the Vermont Valley, but for us all in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We just have to have visionary leadership at all levels, hard-work and dedication.

Douglas Slater M.D
M.P., South Leeward.