“Special” is how ten teachers who received the National Distinguished Teacher Award last evening have been described by Chief Education Officer, Laurie King.
In addressing the Royal Fidelity Merchant Bank and Trust (Barbados Ltd) Awards Ceremony at Hilton Barbados, King said: “We have approximately 3,200 teachers in the system and the ones who have been chosen tonight to be honoured ought to feel very special because we have some of the best teachers anywhere to be found on this continent. And, to be chosen it says something about your performance… It says that you are very special persons.”
Acknowledging that the ceremony was being held during Education Month, the period in which the ministry sought to recognise the importance of education, King commended Royal Fidelity and its associated sponsors for hosting the competition a second consecutive time and seeing “it fit to recognise the sterling efforts of teachers across the system”.
He reminded the gathering that the island was also celebrating 50 years of universal free public education and that this was a significant achievement for a small country with limited natural resources.
The senior official said: “As you are aware in Barbados we don’t have a tremendous amount of natural resources. Our sole natural resource happens to be our people… Our forefathers and successive governments have recognised the importance of education to national development and we have, over the years, been devoting one fifth of our national budget to the development of education in this country.”
As he wished the “special 10 awardees” the best, King said: “We look forward to you continuing to make a contribution to national development since the primary objective of education is to ensure that all the students exiting the system do so and are in a position to make a significant contribution to national development.”
Noting that during the interviews, a number of teachers had cited the lack of adequate resources as a primary inhibitor to being able to make the kind of impact they would wish, the Chief Education Officer stated:
“Our emphasis… must be on equality and we will do everything humanly possible to ensure that we provide the necessary resources.”
Reminded that 20 years ago what existed was the mere chalk and chalk board, King assured the teachers that the ministry would continue to do all in its power, to ensure “the adequate provision for you to have access to the resources that would allow you to make the kind of contribution that you would wish to make”.
The Royal Fidelity Awards started in April with nominations in May/June. The 10 teachers awarded were: Edwin Gibson – Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic, Jean Wells-Greaves – Queen’s College, Glendora Best – Charles F. Broome Memorial Primary School, Cheryl Forde – Charles F. Broome Memorial Primary School, Margaret Cumberbatch – Eagle Hall Primary, Karen McGuire – St Gabriel’s Primary School, Valerie Hunte – Metropolitan High School, Nola Cummings-Lewis – Hindsbury Primary School, Lennox Boyce – Ellerslie Secondary School, and Jennifer McDonald Goddard – Christ Church Foundation School.