Ministry of Education 60th Anniversary Essay Writing Competition Results and Award Ceremony
Feature Address by
The Honourable Camille Robinson-Regis
Minister of Housing and Urban Development
Conference Room 2, Level 4, Ministry of Education
St. Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain
Friday, March 3, 2023
9:00 am – 11:00 am
- The Honourable Lisa Morris-Julian, Minister in the Ministry of Education
- Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education
- Chief Education Officer – Ministry of Education
- Principals, Deans and Teachers
- Parents and Guardians
- Specially invited guests
- Members of the media
- Ladies and Gentlemen
Good morning everyone,
Today I am indeed elated to celebrate with the youths of our beloved nation. I am here to celebrate with you the winners of the Ministry of Education’s Essay Competition for Primary and Secondary School students in recognition of Trinidad and Tobago’s 60th Anniversary of Independence and 46th Anniversary as a Republic.
For over 100 years, the symbol of the diamond has represented the 60th anniversary. The hardest naturally occurring substance on earth, diamonds represent the enduring strength of our nation and its people. As you know last year we celebrated our 60 years of independence, we remembered and celebrated those who fought for our independence and those who continue to protect it today.
Last year’s Diamond celebrations were particularly special as we commemorated our 60th anniversary as a nation. Our country is foremost in the Caribbean region and a leader in economic growth and development. With a population of 1.3 million people, we have hosted multiple international events including CARIFTA Swimming Championships, Miss Universe Pageant , 20/20 Cricket and World Cup football matches at our National Stadium.
We are a small nation but mighty with a heart and soul for people.
To mark this momentous occasion, we were determined to ensure that our young people had an opportunity to celebrate with a grateful nation because, in the blink of an eye, it will be their turn to lead and protect this nation. The 60th-anniversary Committee along with the Ministry of Education held essay competitions for students in both primary and secondary schools across Trinidad and Tobago. The winners of these competitions wrote essays about the story of our country that recounted important events leading up to Independence Day as well as what happened during Independence Day itself.
Thank you, organizers, of the 60th-anniversary essay competition. Through your efforts, we have been able to reach not just teach but also learn through the essays submitted. We hope that you have been as moved by the stories collected on these pages.
I applaud school Principals, teachers, parents and other members of your family for the support and commitment to the development of the youth of our nation.
To the students who participated I want you to know that you are all winners! In addition to writing about their own experiences during Independence Day celebrations, you have also learnt about Prime Minister Eric Williams who led us into independence on August 31st, 1962 after years of struggle against colonial rule by Great Britain. We hope aside from researching important facts about our independence, you were also enthralled by our story – our history. You are now in a better position to pave the way for a brighter future for Trinidad and Tobago.
Last year, when we launched the 60th Anniversary celebrations, the Oversight Committee, which I had the honour to Chair, focused on celebrating our Nation’s achievements with all age groups, of every creed and race, to generate and nurture National pride across our twin island state. .
This National focus was reflective in the theme for the Diamond Jubilee, “#together60”, and the Commemorative Logo. The logo was ‘inspired by the dynamism of Trinidad and Tobago’s journey to becoming an Independent nation and the potential, resilience and future focus of our people’.
Based on the Anniversary theme and logo, there is no doubt, that the youths of today, are our focus, as you are the ones who will in years to come, be the leaders of our nation.
This school essay competition was just one of the various events held last year in commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee of our Nation’s Independence and 46 years as a Republic. To celebrate this milestone, there were several activities, which I hope all of you were able to participate in, in one way or another. Whether it was the Independence Day parade, a concert, the wearing and display of our national colours, an art exhibition, a social media activity, or some of the various cultural activities.
By participating, you demonstrated national pride. To you the students, you demonstrated national patriotism through the essay competition, and today, you were awarded for your excellence in undertaking the research and writing your essay. National patriotism does not end with this essay competition, but each day, your words and actions must reflect the beauty of our beloved country.
You have all done well, having produced these essays. You are demonstrating to your families, to your teachers, to your communities that you are ready to put in the work and be serious and focused, for the good of our Nation.
What is important is that you know that you can do anything. We are fortunate to live in a country where we are not legally restrained by creed or class, family background or ethnicity. We are blessed that under the Government led by the Honourable Dr. Keith Christopher Rowley the opportunities are endless.
That is true for you as it was for me, growing up under the education system built by the founders of this nation, under the leadership of our first Prime Minister, the late Dr. Eric Williams, who always placed education on its rightful pedestal.
Never before would I have imagined that everything that I did when I was in school, your age, would prepare me to be a Member of Parliament and a Minister of Government in this Independent nation of Trinidad and Tobago. But like you, it started with small events like these. It began with taking pride in my work, striving to be the best at whatever I set my mind to do, being disciplined early on, listening to my teachers, taking on opportunities to compete, to improve myself, to hone my skills.
You will not wake up one day and discover you are automatically everything you always wanted to be. But, as you remember the words of Dr. Eric Williams in 1962, our Nation’s slogan for all time is: Discipline, Production and Tolerance. These watchwords will guide you to success as an individual and for us as a country.
Our Honourable Prime Minister did not wake up one morning to become who he is. It took a lot of discipline, hard work, a lot of sacrifice, a lot of commitment, a lot of dedication to keep working and to get things done. We may all slip and fall and trip along the way. But, we have to get up, and go again. Not everyone will win the top prize, but we can all enjoy the thrill of trying. It is better to try and fail than fail to try.
As you all move from success to success, and I know you will, you have an opportunity to inspire some others, to inspire those coming up after you. To tell them about your vision for this country. To tell them about where you want to see this country in 10, 20, 30 years. It seems like a long time, but 2030 is just around the corner and that is what we, as a Government, are focused on. That is what the people of Trinidad and Tobago asked us to focus on:
- Putting People First: Nurturing Our Greatest Asset
- Delivering Good Governance and Service Excellence
- Improving Productivity Through Quality Infrastructure and Transportation
- Building Globally Competitive Businesses; and
- Placing the Environment at the Centre of Social and Economic Development
Some of you may have had the opportunity to read the National Development Strategy Vision 2030. This may be your signal to influence other young people like yourselves to put your shoulders to the wheels of history and make this nation, Trinidad and Tobago, the greatest nation on earth.
Can we do it? Yes, we can. How do I know? Because you live here. Young people like you all give us hope. Young people like you who make your parents proud. Young people like you who make your principals and teachers proud. Young people like you who make the Minister of Education, the Honourable Dr. Nyan Gadsby Dolly proud, and make the Minister in the Ministry of Education Lisa Morris-Julian proud, and you have all made me proud.
Imagine what Trinidad and Tobago can be, when we all ‘Take our pride in our liberty’ as an Independent Nation. Imagine what you can each do for your community, for children just like you, who may not have been gifted in the same way, but whose contribution to national development is just as important. Take this experience back to them. Tell them they can do the same. Tell them they can accomplish their dreams. Tell them they can be whom they want to be. Tell them about the Trinidad and Tobago you wrote about in your essays. Tell them about the Trinidad and Tobago you are working towards having.
God’s richest blessings upon all of you. May God bless your teachers, parents and may God continue to bless Trinidad and Tobago.
I thank you.