OFFICIAL BACK-TO-SCHOOL ADDRESS BY DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND MINISTER OF EDUCATION, HON. DR. GEOFFREY HANLEY
Greetings Fellow Citizens and Residents, across our great Federation teachers and students are actively planning and preparing with anticipation for the start of the 2022-2023 academic year. As the Minister of Education, this year is a significant one for me as I embark upon a journey to reassess, re-imagine and redefine education as we know it. Quality education is a fundamental right to which every human being should have access. Citizens and residents, it is my intent to ensure that the federation of St. Kitts and Nevis continues to lead in the area of education. During my address, I will highlight pertinent information that will guide our Ministry throughout this academic year. This will include important dates, updated Covid-19 protocols, the annual back-to-school Key Message, personnel changes and the Ministry’s goals.
Our school year will begin on Monday 5th September, 2022 and all teachers, teacher assistants and ancillary staff in our public Early Childhood Centres, Primary and Secondary Schools are expected to report for work by the designated time. All employees, students and parents of private academic institutions should be guided by their proprietors or School Boards.
Students within our public primary and secondary schools, your first day of school will be on Wednesday 7th September, 2022. I expect you to arrive early and ready to work. We look forward to warmly welcoming our new entrants to preschool, primary and high school and encourage you to bloom where you are planted. Your teachers are exceptional educators who give their very best to ensure that you are successful. Parents, we value your input and encourage you to become an active member of your school’s Parent Teacher Association.
Over the last two years, we, as a community, have struggled with the effects of the Covid19 virus which impacted our students and teachers on multiple levels. Despite having to endure school closures, the shift system, and hybrid classes last school year, our teachers and students remained resilient, determined to finish the year strong and that they did. On behalf of the Ministry of Education, I would like to thank all of our teachers, who throughout the pandemic, rose to the mammoth task before them, skillfully navigated unchartered waters, and worked tirelessly to bridge the learning gap experienced by the nation’s children thereby keeping them on target to meet their educational goals. While we are still faced with the effects of Covid-19, our country is slowly moving to the 2 endemic stages which has led to the updating of the Covid-19 protocols at our schools. Teachers, parents and students, please take note of the following:
1. All persons seeking access to our educational institutions MUST sanitize their hands upon entry.
2. The wearing of a mask is now OPTIONAL but strongly encouraged in enclosed spaces.
3. To avoid the spread of Covid-19, students and teachers who are experiencing flu-like symptoms should seek the help of a medical professional prior to their return to campus. This can help limit the number of interruptions in teaching and learning.
For future reference, all significant dates, updated Covid-19 protocols and other relevant school information can be found in the Ministry of Education’s ‘Guidelines for the ReOpening of Schools’ document which is accessible on our website education.gov.kn.
Each year the Ministry of Education chooses a Key Message to guide and inspire our students. This year is no different. Our Key Message for the 2022-2023 academic year is ‘Excellence is NOT a skill, it is an attitude’ by Ralph Marston. Let us encourage our children to live by these words.
Citizens and residents, education is forever changing and these changes take place at every level. At this juncture, I would like to thank Mr. William Vincent Hodge for his guidance, hard work and direction as permanent secretary of the Ministry of Education over the past six years. We are extremely grateful and value the contribution he has made to the education fraternity. With this being said, I am pleased to announce our new permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education Mrs. Lisa-Romayne Archibald-Pistana. She has worked within the field of education for over 19 years during which time she served as a Teacher, Principal, Education Officer and Deputy Chief Education Officer. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the post.
Changes also occurred at the school level and they are as follows:
• Ms. Jamillah Bristol is the new Head Teacher of Beach Allen Primary School
• Mr. Javan Cannonier has assumed the post of Deputy Head Teacher at the Cayon Primary School.
• Ms. Ulukia Bryan has accepted the post of Deputy Head Teacher at the Dieppe Bay Primary School. 3
Congratulations all! I am confident that these leaders are both qualified and capable to lead on the implementation of the Ministry’s goals by working collaboratively with their colleagues in the education fraternity, civic society, NGOs, our regional and international partners.
The Ministry of Education’s goals for the 2022-2023 academic year focus on inclusivity and equity. We intend to provide every child equitable access to quality education in a safe child-friendly environment. Therefore, as the Minister of Education, I aim to heed the call from our teachers for greater ‘C.A.R.E’ by:
• Increasing the number of teaching assistants in our schools
• Improving our professional development model to incorporate more TVET-related fields and Learning Disabilities courses. Professional Development needs to be more personalized, competency-based and accessible anytime or anywhere.
• Rebuilding Basseterre High School and converting all of our high schools into centers of excellence.
• Renovating Joshua Obediah Williams Primary School.
• Expanding our maintenance unit to incorporate skilled trade persons who will ensure the continued maintenance of our school plants.
• Ensuring both students and teachers have the technology they need to make learning interactive and fun.
• Lastly, by strengthening the TVET sector through the provisions of certification at the end of the training period.
Citizens these goals are reachable and I pledge to work tirelessly to ensure that they come to fruition.
In closing, I would like to thank our parents, teachers and the wider community for partnering with the Ministry of Education. We greatly appreciate your support and intend to strengthen our bonds of mutual respect and collaboration. Once again students and teachers ‘Welcome Back’ and I pray you have a productive year keeping in mind that ‘Excellence is NOT a skill. It is an Attitude!’ May God continue to bless you the citizens and residents of this great federation.
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