- Paramin Primary School
Good afternoon and thank you all for being part of today’s formal opening of the Paramin Roman Catholic Primary School.
In the grand design of progress, the opening of this school may, for some, be seen only as a promise delivered.
But for the Paramin community, and certainly to me, this project is the answer to a lot of hope and many prayers.
To your community, this is not simply a project or an achievement; it is mission accomplished.
That mission was to achieve a modern, comfortable and safe environment for your children to give their best and do their best.
So today, I join hands with the people of Paramin and I share your joy over your hopes and prayers finally being answered.
Today, Paramin has deepened its presence on the big picture of Trinidad & Tobago as a progressive nation confidently walking towards a future of prosperity for all.
THE BIG PICTURE
And what is that big picture?
Since coming to Government in 2010, one of the main elements of a programme of transformation of our nation has been the pursuit of education.
And I do not mean education only in terms of a system that our children can access.
Education as part of a process of transformation required that children had a strong start, by having universal access to pre-school.
Education requires that the environment in which children are educated is safe, comfortable and provides easy access to technology and online resources.
It requires that a child must not only have a secure place in school, but that the system of education must be able to identify the child’s strengths and motivate them to build those strengths.
Ultimately, a transformed education system must be one that shows a clear path to the future, giving children every encouragement to pursue their dreams with confidence.
The big picture is completed when today’s children become tomorrow’s adults, who can ably take on the responsibilities of work, family and leadership.
The big picture is completed when today’s child becomes tomorrow’s stakeholder in a future of prosperity for all.
So for the delivery of this facility and the hard work in staying faithful to our promises to citizens, I commend the Education Minister, Dr Gopeesingh and his team at the Ministry of Education.
I also commend Education Facilities Company Limited for making this happen for Paramin and indeed for many communities across our country.
RECOGNITION OF PROGRESS
What is important for us to note is that our progress has also been a feature of international recognition and as well.
In education, Trinidad & Tobago has redefined itself as a leader among nations.
We have achieved Universal Early Childhood Care and Education, which now links to Universal Primary and Universal Secondary education.
This foundation links to Universal Tertiary education up to the undergraduate level.
And for persons pursuing programmes at the Master’s and PhD level, they are supported by up to 50 per cent of their fees.
These core elements of transformation in education are supported by a laptop now being owned by every child in forms 1 to 5 in the secondary school system.
All Secondary schools, as well as over 300 primary schools are now equipped with functioning Computer Labs.
We now also have 21st century Smart Classrooms with Audio Visual Labs, in a number of our schools.
Going even further, the Ministry of Education is advancing coordination with our major stakeholders for Special Needs students.
The majority of students with special needs are included in the mainstream through that programme, and work continues with the 14 private and 11 public Special Needs Schools.
On the side of the emotional and mental wellbeing of children, the Student Support Services Division now has close to 700 Guidance Officers; Guidance Counsellors; School Social Workers; Clinical, Behavioural and Educational Psychologists who interface with students every day.
Enhancement Learning Centres have also been established for counselling of difficult students.
And as of now, over 70,000 secondary school students have had the opportunity to participate in two-day Career Guidance Workshops at a national level.
EDUCATION FOR ALL
I highlight these factors to demonstrate how we have undertaken the transformation of the education system, into one that is modern, progressive and equitable.
We have also focused on education as part of daily life, not only through schools, but also communities and families.
Over 100 Parenting Workshops have been held throughout Trinidad and Tobago, attracting thousands of parents who are now part of our Parent Academy in Education.
This has helped us to improve the literacy and numeracy skills among children, to the extent that in 2014 we achieved the best academic performance in the SEA, CSEC and CAPE, with marked improved in all three examinations.
The Ministry of Education has facilitated the training and retraining of thousands of Teachers in areas of ADR, Mediation, Language Arts, Mathematics and ICT.
All Primary School teachers now possess Bachelors’ of Education certification, or have been trained at the Teacher Training Colleges.
The Ministry of Education is also working assiduously with the Teaching Service Commission to fill vacancies of Principal, Vice Principal, Head of Department, Dean and Teacher.
The Education Ministry has undergone major organisational restructuring; a robust Human Resource Management Information System is now being developed.
Major Curriculum reform has been completed in the Primary and the Early Childhood, Care and Education (ECCE) curricula, while the Secondary curriculum reform is now being completed.
More students are now participating in co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, including sports.
Reinforcing the transformation in education policy is the infrastructural side of things, with almost 100 new schools being constructed and almost 110 Early Childhood, Care and Education (ECCE) centres being completed.
We have completed over 4,500 infrastructural, repair and maintenance projects, in over 850 schools.
And at the present time, another 80 schools are under construction.
This is the comprehensive programme of transformation of which your community is part.
The school is built to accommodate 240 students and was designed to capture the character and essence of the surrounding community.
And this facility is only part of our programme to demonstrate a true appreciation for communities who have added colour and charm to the national face the world sees.
Paramin is an historic and important cultural treasure, having become synonymous with Parang music and Christmas.
Such treasures deserve more than just mention, and this is why you became part of this transformation programme, so that your community can benefit in the same way that we, as a nation, have benefitted from your cultural strength.
There are a number of important elements that form the pillars upon which modern and progressive nations must stand.
Culture and heritage are among those important pillars, and Paramin occupies a very safe place in the recognition of how we have evolved culturally.
Underlying every stage of progress, however, must be a strong, adaptive and equitable education system.
Culture and heritage tell of who we used to be, and what we have become, but it is education that will show us where we can go, and what we can achieve in the future.
Education is the single most important element that secures our ability to continue and progress.
So today as I formally open the Paramin Roman Catholic Primary School and commit it to the care of your community, I also thank you for the treasures you have given to our nation, and encourage you to keep moving forward with the confidence that your Government is always on your side.
May God Bless you all, I thank you!