Using her personal story as an example, Minister Hastings said that while she was awarded a Hinterland Scholarship to the Central High School in her teenage years, she had to drop out because of circumstances beyond her control while in Fourth Form and return to Kako Village in the Mazaruni. She, however, noted that she was determined to reach her full potential and so she pursued every available opportunity, which eventually led her to the Cyril Potter College of Education to pursue a trained teacher’s certificate. She later attended the University of Guyana where she acquired a Bachelor’s Degree in Education Management.
“I tell my story everywhere I go, because I want young people to understand that they must take advantage of the opportunities they are presented with and be the best they can be. You are young, intelligent, talented, with great potential [and] you have a bright future ahead of you. Always believe in yourself and continue to defeat the obstacles that come your way. What you need to do is be truthful, honest, courteous, respectful and humble in all your actions. Today marks the end of your secondary education but it opens the doors to other opportunities and higher learning,” she said.
The Minister of State said that education plays a major role in the growth and progress of a society and it is one of the key components that can make or break a culture’s advancement.
“If citizens of a society are educated, they can provide significant contributions in the fields of arts, literature, science, technology, and others, and help establish a well-rounded and stimulating community. The annual budget has since been increased by 64 per cent from 2015 and has seen Government spending $52billion on education; which is more than any other sector. The President has committed to make education
accessible to every Guyanese and has said, ““I have vowed to re-introduce…free education from nursery to university. You don’t have to migrate; you don’t have to go away. We are going to build a first-class education system. Every Guyanese child will be educated on all four levels; nursery, primary, secondary and university at the state’s expense. It is your entitlement”,” the Minister noted.
Noting that education helps individuals to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills to make better choices and decisions, Minister Hastings- Williams encouraged the students to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), which can help the country to overcome its challenges.
“Guyana is moving in the right direction and I encourage you to pursue STEM. I have no doubt that you have the potential. We believe in you as a Government. We believe that you can move Guyana forward when you use your skills and capabilities. We are looking at the young people to be our petroleum engineers and manage our oil and gas sector and as a Government, we have to provide those opportunities to you, our young people,” she said.
Meanwhile, Headmistress of the school, Mrs. Kamalawattie Balroop, in her remarks, said that while the school has been dealing with a number of challenges including shortage of staff and lack of adequate resources and space, it has managed to attain an overall pass rate of 95.5 percent this year, marking a stark improvement from previous years.
Of 20 subjects, the school attained 100 percent passes in 15 subjects. She too encouraged the students to strive for more even as they close this chapter of their lives.
“You have made us proud and we want you to strive for more, strive for higher education. Make use of your youth and opportunities that come your way to improve your lives,” she said.