Government of Montserrat

FEATURE ADDRESS: 2019 CXC Official Release of May/June Exam Results

Friday August 9, 2019
PRESENTED BY THE PREMIER, HONOURABLE DONALDSON ROMEO ON BEHALF OF THE MINISTER OF EDUCATION, HONOURABLE DELMAUDE RYAN
 
I am indeed delighted much like Hon Minister Ryan (who is still recovering from illness), for the confidence in CXC to afford Montserrat the opportunity to host the official release of the May/June 2019 exam results. Indeed, you have demonstrated your regionalism in an inclusiveness that respects Montserrat as an equal voice around the table regardless of our size and our past tragedies.
 

Premier Romeo and CXC Registrar, Dr. Wayne Wesley


 

We are on the rebound in our development and you being here is a testimony to this.
 

For those of you who are visiting for the first time or in a very long time, do take time out to enjoy our hospitality; the way the Caribbean used to be.
 

The honourable Minister has asked me to deliver a few words which she has prepared for this occasion; and so I read:
 

I address you this morning in humility and thankfulness for the goodness of God. It is perhaps 200 years (three seventy-year lifespans) since our enslaved ancestors first had the ability to hold a slate or even a stick marking letters and numbers in the dirt of their yards as they became exposed to basic literacy and numeracy – the first steps of what we call education. Today, we have at our fingertips smart screen devices that vastly exceed the power of the computers that were used to land people on the Moon on July 20th 1969—just fifty years ago last month. These devices give us instant access to a world that we can understand all around us.
 

The digital world and the digital sector present to us in the Caribbean the same dynamic opportunities that other peoples across our planet have for the decades ahead.
 

As a region, we have moved beyond the mere knowledge of such things; in order to ensure that our rising generations measure up to the levels required to grasp the many opportunities of a global, digital world. Today, we are continuously elevating ourselves so that one day we will end our “as yet unfinished history” that tempts us to be oppressors of our own selves. Through education, opportunities and transformation, we are advancing as liberators and innovators who will change the face of our region. However, just as the journey of achieving equality among women and men takes time, so too, this is a long journey.
 

Sadly, though, our measures are not moving at the desired pace up the ladder. While we rejoice with those who have succeeded or have even excelled in the regional examination results that we release officially today, we must also recognise that such are only a relatively small percentage of candidates. Unfortunately, the results are retrogressive. They tell the story that too many under-achievers are perpetuating the landscape from whence our generations fought so hard to escape. Ancestors, who were often branded by the scars of the whip on their backs; who were called derogatory names. Some of whom were actually shot or hanged and killed for the imagined crimes of standing up for equal rights and justice and for being considered fully human. Yes, mis-education and indoctrination in lies can have terrible consequences of making oppressive wrongs seem to be right. That is our history; by God’s grace, it must not be our future.
 

We as a Caribbean people must never lose sight of our roots; we must understand and value the liberating power of education. We must redouble our efforts.
 

We must not slip back down the ladder. That would lead to an age where we become slaves again; because we have failed to impress on our offspring and those around us the nearly infinite, transforming power and value of a good education. We have too often failed to express on our generations that education is more that academic achievements expressed in certificates that open doors to jobs. No, at its heart, true education is the empowerment that equips us to rightly understand the world in which we live so that we can be positive change makers. We have too often failed to keep the torch of our generations going; settling for quick money, shiny bling and costly cellphones or second-hand Internet cars. We have too often only sought to impress those who tear us down. That will only make us slip back into a cycle where our young boys and girls have lost the purpose of their existence.
 

I beg to question: what kind of foundation are we laying? Is it one that makes us forever dependent on imports, hand me downs and handouts? Or will we as a region change that trend to one that we are the providers, the innovators, the entrepreneurs, the way makers and the revolutionaries?
 

We cannot continue to move our yardstick back down the ladder; we must find a way to stem the slippage; we must change the way we educate; we must change the fragmented landscape of the education tapestry of our region. We need to equally utilise all the talents, knowledge and skills of all of our people, regardless of their sex, class or race. For example, our statistics show that females do well at the tertiary level but are not equally representative in leadership roles. Progressive societies have taken note and acted on such trends. The resulting reforms have become game changers in the advancement of their development.
 

While we must frankly face our challenges, it is however not all doom and gloom. Let us celebrate every achievement no matter how small. Likewise, we will not — and we should not – water down the quality of our education and academic content. Instead, let us seek out the opportunities of the digital age and find techniques to address the troubled areas.
 

For, as our local secondary school’s motto advises: one who does not progress retrogresses.
 

The Caribbean Examinations Council has been moving in the right direction by realigning its offerings to meet the requirements of the new age of industry. We all must do our best to ensure that our education systems are also in alignment with trends, so we can match our knowledge and skills to tomorrow’s realities.
 

With great minds coming together as a region, putting the resources that make that difference in the right place we indeed can make that change.
 

When it comes to our human capital, if the appropriate investment is not made today the returns will not be great tomorrow.
 

I therefore encourage my colleague ministers of education and heads of state to reach for the global Sustainable Development
 

Goals by investing in our people first. We must reverse the trends that have our ancestors turning in their graves.
 

The grounds we stand on here today, were not gifts; they were fought for. The education we are exposed today was not a gift; it was fought for— inch by uphill inch. So let us ensure from now on that the costly, painful fight of our ancestors was not in vain.
 

Let us now push forward, and lend a helping hand by putting our best persons in education. And let us compensate them for such. As indeed as that great freedom fighter, the late Nelson Mandela penned it: “Education is the only weapon that can change our world.” Yes, including our region, our Caribbean. So let us pick up our pens and our books and let us take back our world!
 

Thank you.