updated 6:19 PM PDT, Sep 5, 2017
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Society Can't Function Without Technical Experts- Education Minister

The Virgin Islands School of Technical Studies (VISTS) hosted its first graduation ceremony on Friday June 23rd, at its Baughers Bay campus with eight students graduating including the Territory's top student, Kierra John. 

Against this backdrop, Hon. Myron V. Walwyn, Minister of Education and Culture said that for many years, they have had the misguided notion that if you didn't work in an office, if you didn't wear a necktie and fancy clothing, if you weren’t a doctor, a lawyer, or an accountant, your years of education didn't do much for you. 

"But nothing could be further from the truth. We live in a very diverse society, where all citizens are required to make a contribution. No society can function well without technical experts to do the very necessary and important things. If we are all doctors and lawyers - who will fix our cars? If we’re all doctors and lawyers - who would be the chefs in the hotels?"

He said, "If we’re all doctors and lawyers - who will build our homes? If we’re all doctors and lawyers - who will do women’s hair and makeup and make them look pretty. The point is a successful society requires its population to have diverse skills."

The minister said that if they are to be truthful with ourselves, there are many reasons for unemployment particularly with our young people, "but I believe in many instances we have more of a skills problem than anything else. And this why this institution is so important. "

He stated that a decision was made by the government of the Virgin Islands back in 2014 to place technical and vocational studies as a priority, and the Ministry of Education being responsible for building the human resource capacity of our country was given the mandate to do so. 

"The former institution, which was referred to as the technical school, or given the nickname “The Ark,” was a very good effort with very good intentions."

"But I am sure we would all agree that it did not meet all the need our students, and the need in the Territory for an institution like this that adequately supports the labour market."

Walwyn Defends 'Too Fast' Initiatives- ESHS Grade 12 Students Graduate

After receiving public criticisms over the implementation of the controversial additional school year, yesterday, June 22nd, the first batch of Elmore Stoutt High School (ESHS) graduated at the Multi Purpose Sports Complex, during a grand ceremony. 

There was no graduation last year. The school earned a 98% pass rate. Of the 162 students, 159 were successful in achieving all the graduation requirements.  

Ms. Kelliann Freeman was the valedictorian and she also came in second in the Territory.

During the ceremony, Hon. Myron V. Walwyn, Minister of Education and Culture, said that, many see the initiatives of the Ministry as too many, too fast.

"But if we take a look at the world around us and the new premium placed on competence, we will see that we have a lot to do to get on track and to ensure that our young people are in a position to compete with the best. This is why it is important for us to stretch our young people, help them to develop critical thinking skills, to be creative, to be innovative and to develop the capacity to question and take risks to improve their circumstances and indeed improve our country."

He said that, it is often not remembered that the economic sustainability of a country is based on the quality of the human resources capital of a country. And it is 'our' job at the Ministry of Education and Culture to ensure that our students are well prepared for this awesome responsibility. 

The minister said that with the adjustments that we made to our new graduation requirements, along with the other quality assurance initiatives that they implemented, he believe that the school leaving results have greater authenticity. 

"The Ministry’s constant engagement, monitoring and implementation of various qualifying factors, encouragedour students to work harder and more consistently.  We introduced subjects like Financial Services, Tourism, National Citizens Service, and Civics as compulsory subjects to ensure that our students have a solid understanding of the economic pillars of the Virgin Islands."

He added, " And as you may have heard, we will be making a special push this school year to introduce more foreign language options including Mandarin, that will help to make our students more globally acclimated."

The minister said that their insistence that students sit and pass a minimum of 5 CSEC subjects inclusive of Math and English to receive a Government scholarship and now the addition of CAPE is no trivial initiative.

"It is part and parcel of ensuring that our young people can compete in the global market. The Caribbean Examinations Council is our Caribbean institution, which has developed a worldwide reputation."

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